Confederation College Embark Event Brings Together Indigenous Youth, Artemis II Astronaut and Educators

Canadian Space Agency Astronaut Jeremy Hansen (Artemis II Lunar Mission)
Canadian Space Agency Astronaut Jeremy Hansen (Artemis II Lunar Mission)

THUNDER BAY – LIVING – Confederation College, the Embark Program, the Canadian Space Agency, Lets Talk Science, Fort William Historical Park, The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, and Science North joined forces to host an event titled “Reclaiming SPACE: An Indigenous Youth STEAM Gathering (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math), which set out to connect Indigenous youth and community members with experts in those fields, as well as to gain understanding of what Indigenous youth and Community members want from STEAM education.

The event featured Indigenous Storyteller, John Walmark, and a virtual talk and Q&A session by Canadian Space Agency Astronaut Jeremy Hansen (Artemis II Lunar Mission), as well as a chat and Q&A session with astrophysicist and educator, Parshati Patel.

Through several science-related engagement sessions, participants had the opportunity to connect with experts in STEAM and explore how Indigenous knowledge could be integrated into these fields. The sessions aimed to understand what Indigenous youth were curious about, what they needed to pursue their curiosity, and how they saw STEAM and Indigenous knowledge connecting.

“Indigenous people are not new to science. Complex scientific understanding of the forest has been in use through indigenous peoples on this land for a long time,” said Alicia Brink, Metis artist, educator, and the Program Manager of Embark. “Take the birchbark canoe. This would have required an understanding of the season and when to harvest materials, and the properties of the bark. There is also chemistry in mixing spruce pitch and fat to the right consistency to seal the seams of the canoe.”

“At Confederation College, we want to connect Indigenous worldview to STEAM education, so that Indigenous students can find themselves, their knowledge, their experiences, and their culture reflected and honoured in the classroom,” Brink adds. “I think, as Canadians open their eyes, to the horrors, and continued damage of Residential schools, more and more Institutions, Agencies and Organizations are coming together to work towards reconciliation. Science, engineering, technology, and trades is a place where Indigenous peoples are underrepresented, so we are excited to work with so many other organizations to inspire Indigenous youth to dream big about their futures in STEAM, and to see how Indigenous world view can help change the landscape of science”.

Embark – Indigenous STEAM program is a one-year pre-technology certificate that grounds students in the fundamentals of STEAM, as well as honouring Indigenous and Western ways of understanding science and the world. The program offers experiential learning opportunities both on the land and in the classroom, allowing students to build strong connections with the college, each other, the learning materials, and the land. This free tuition program is currently accepting Indigenous applicants.

Confederation College has been serving the citizens of northwestern Ontario since 1967 meeting the educational needs of students in a catchment area of some 550,000 square kilometres. Along with its main campus in Thunder Bay, Confederation College has seven regional sites located in Dryden, Fort Frances, Greenstone, Kenora, Marathon, Sioux Lookout and Red Lake, as well as a growing Distance Education division. 

Confederation College delivers exceptional education and training to an average of 4,800 combined full- and part-time students per year and currently has a total of 600 full- and part-time employees. Confederation’s regional economic impact and contribution is valued at $703.3 million annually.

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