An eagle feather sits on the kitchen table in Simon Monteith’s house.

Next to it are household items such as hydrogen peroxide, dish soap, food coloring, and baking dishes.

This scene depicts two worlds traversed by a 9-year-old girl.

From a scientific point of view, feathers help propulsion and enable flight. From a First Nations perspective, the eagle’s feather is a symbol of respect.

“I like to see things from more than one perspective,” says Simon.

For the past two years, young Cree from Opaskwayak Cree Nation in northern Manitoba have been virtually inviting others to their Winnipeg home to share their love of all things science.

With his kitchen as the backdrop, Simon created about 60 educational videos and posted them on social media under the name Simon the Scientist.

The project started early in the COVID-19 pandemic when Simon approached his mother to create a video to help explain the virus to other children and young people. It expanded to cover geology, technology and chemistry.

According to Jacqueline Monteith, his son has always had a unique ability to understand complex concepts.

“It’s fascinating that a child has the unique ability to teach other children scientific and complex concepts in a very unique way.

Simon’s love of science was born at an early age.

“My interest in science wasn’t for any particular reason. It’s kind of who I am,” he says.

Simon wants to reach underrepresented groups in science.

For Rob Cardinal, this same goal inspired him to help found IndigeSTEAM, an organization that provides Indigenous-led and culturally relevant programming to Indigenous youth and other underrepresented groups.

The name of the organization comes from the acronym STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics). The group has incorporated art, architecture and agriculture into their programs to form STEAM. It represents a region where indigenous peoples have been innovators for thousands of years.

“Knowledge is knowledge. Our ways and culture are very relevant in this day and age,” says Cardinal.

Indigenous students are more engaged in curricula that bridge Indigenous knowledge methods and Western science, according to a 2020 study by the Canadian Congress Commission.

The Board has tracked over 100 different programs in Canada aimed at helping Indigenous learners succeed in STEM. The survey found that despite early efforts to reach out to Indigenous students, there is still a gap in preparing her for post-secondary STEM studies in high school. I was.

Indigenous people make up 4% of Canadian adults, but less than 2% of those working in STEM.

Doug Dokis, director of Actua’s Indigenous Youth in STEM program, said financial, technical, and community resources are in short supply.

The National Institute of Education is one of the largest STEM outreach organizations in the country. We have relationships with 200 indigenous communities and reach approximately 35,000 young people.

An anisenabe from Dokis First Nation, Ontario, Dokis is working in the field and through a variety of programs, while advocating a cohesive approach to improving educational outcomes and participation of Indigenous peoples in STEM fields. He added that a nationwide effort had not yet been made.

According to Dokis, in recent years the industry has relied on indigenous knowledge about climate and land sustainability.

“Indigenous peoples have always had the highest level of knowledge about STEM. is becoming the focus of

Cardinal says it’s important for Indigenous youth to have role models.

Cardinal is a Blackfoot and astrophysicist from the Shikshika First Nation. Cardinal says that after discovering the comet, one of his elders told him that he had a duty to share his knowledge with the nation, prompting him to move into a mentorship role.

Cardinal wants to show young people that there is space for them in the field of science.

“Inspire them and make them proud.”

Back in Winnipeg, Simon is becoming a leader himself.

He wants to turn his passion project into a TV show and reach more young people. He submitted his business plan to the Pow Wow Pitch, a competition for indigenous entrepreneurs, and is a semi-finalist.

“(I) want to support other children’s ideas and help them find their own dreams, which may or may not be science.


This report by the Canadian Press was first published on August 27, 2022.



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