THUNDER BAY – EDUCATION – The First Nations Natural Resources Youth Employment Program (FNNRYEP) has more than 55 participants learning about archaeology, geography, dendrology, sustainable energy sources, entrepreneurship, aboriginal mentorship and more this week during a Science Camp at Confederation College and Lakehead University.
Since 2000, Outland Camps has partnered with Confederation College to offer the FNNRYEP to provide employment and learning opportunities for First Nations youth. To date, the partnership has resulted in over 355 participants being successfully trained, launching numerous careers in the Natural Resource sector.
“We are proud to have played a role in inspiring many First Nations youth to pursue post-secondary education and in some cases, natural resources career paths,” said Riley Burton, Chair of the School of Engineering Technology and Trades at Confederation College. “Not only does the program provide participants with meaningful employment throughout the summer, it also helps to further develop their skills and gives them a real-world experience while they learn.”
Lakehead University and Outland Camps have formed a new partnership this year to expand the program. Called the Mink Lake First Nations Youth Employment Program (MLFNYEP), the experience mirrors that of the FNNRYEP.
“We are excited to be a part of this program,” said Dr. Todd Randall, Dean of the Faculty of Science and Environmental Studies. “This is an excellent way to introduce young Aboriginal people to their choices for postsecondary education in the region, and it makes this experience less daunting.”
Mark Kmill, Field Supervisor at Outland Camps, spoke to the partnerships with both institutions.
“We are thrilled to be working with both Confederation College and Lakehead University to empower Aboriginal youth through a focus on leadership development, social skills and work ethic,” he said. “Seeing participants’ self-esteem and skill-sets grow throughout the program solidifies the value it provides.”
Today, participants from both programs learned about archaeology and had the opportunity to perform an authentic archaeological dig at Lakehead University on a 7,000 year-old site.
Throughout the week, each program follows its own schedule, but the two groups come together several times to maximize the learning experience and opportunities. The week has included field trips to local facilities and has welcomed guest speakers from Confederation College, Lakehead University and the natural resources industry. Topics included dendrology, health and fitness, biomass energy, entrepreneurship, aboriginal mentorship and more.
FNNRYEP participants will return to their home base at Sandbar Camp (near Ignace), while MLFNYEP participants will return to Mink Lake. Both programs will continue through mid-August, with closing ceremonies taking place at Quetico Provincial Park on August 20.
Funding for both programs is provided by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, Canadian Forest Services and industry partners.