Aki Kikinomakaywin Program Offers Hands-on STEAM Learning Opportunities for Indigenous Youth in Northern Ontario
NORDIK Institute is launching its new Aki Kikinomakaywin (Learning on the land) program, which offers hands-on, Indigenous science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM) training for Indigenous youth.
The program will run for one week in July at Lakehead University and Confederation College in Thunder Bay.
Aki Kikinomakaywin is a women- and Indigenous-led program that teaches Indigenous youth from Northern Ontario First Nation communities Indigenous ways of knowing and being through learning on the land through the use of western science techniques.
Aki Kikinomakaywin will be running a week-long camp in Thunder Bay at Lakehead University and Confederation College this summer 2022. The program is free to youth ages 12-14 and covers all costs for accommodation, transportation, and food. In future years, programs will be run in both Thunder Bay and Sault Ste Marie, Ontario.
Youth participating in the program will learn from local Elders, Water Walkers, and Knowledge Holders about Indigenous water laws and governance, as well as how to complete an Indigenous Impact Assessment using Indigenous ways of knowing and being.
Youth will learn how to code sensors to collect environmental data and learn how western science techniques can be used to support Indigenous science, while also becoming more confident in university and college settings.
“The Elders have said that we need to teach our young on the land. Mother Earth is our education system, she is our pharmacy, our kitchen, our everything. By learning on the land, our young will come to understand she is our everything” said Dr. Susan Bell-Chiblow, Assistant Professor at the University of Guelph, NORDIK Research Associate and, and Anishinaabekwe from Garden River First Nation, who is a Co-Lead to the program.
“The youth will learn that we all come from water and need to protect the waters. They will gain the understanding that water is life, is alive with spirit, and is medicine. They will understand that as Anishinaabek, we always did science. This will provide confidence in who they are and potentially assist them in career decisions,” Dr. Chiblow said.
Aki Kikinomakaywin is led by an Advisory Group that is comprised of Indigenous women who are all leaders in the education field and their communities.
This Advisory Group is led by Marnie Yourchuk the Education Program Manager at Mamaweswen, The North Shore Tribal Council; Erin Desjardins is a Stewardship Intern at Matawa and Four Rivers, as well as an M.Sc. candidate at Lakehead University; Lisa Harris is the Coordinator of the Niijii Indigenous Mentorship program at Lakehead University; Mary Wabano-McKay is the Vice President of Nyaagaaniid, Anishinabe Initiatives, Equity and Student Success at Algoma University; Nicole Nicolas-Bayer is the Director of Mukwa Waakaa’igan at Algoma University; Carolyn Hepburn is the Dean of Indigenous Studies and Academic Upgrading at Sault College, and lastly Jasmine Baxter is an Environmental Technician with Matawa and Four Rivers who is also completing her Honours B.Sc. in Environmental Science at Lakehead University.
Dr. Gayle Broad, Professor Emerita at Algoma University and Research Associate at NORDIK Institute, has also played an integral role in developing the program.
Aki Kikinomakaywin is also fortunate to be partnering with Water First and Let’s Talk Science to provide engaging water-focused and coding hands-on western science activities.
“Aki Kikinomakaywin is an important program aiming to support Ontario’s northern First Nation youth in learning about careers in STEAM,” said Haley MacLeod, a Ph.D. Candidate at Lakehead University and a Co-Lead on the program.
“Allowing youth to learn from local Elders and Knowledge Holders will provide a unique opportunity to get youth excited about their own knowledge systems and future career opportunities. I am excited to help get youth on to the land and in the lab and to provide more education opportunities in the North,” MacLeod said.
Applications and additional information are available on the program’s website at akikikinomakaywin.com.
NORDIK Institute is excited to aid in this program. This program will benefit Indigenous youth in Northern Ontario through providing them with unique learning opportunities and provide a model for future land-based learning opportunities in the region.
Dr. Susan Chiblow
Aki Kikinomakaywin Co-Lead
Assistant Professor, University of Guelph
Desk: 705.949.2301, Ext. 4121
About NORDIK Institute: NORDIK Institute is an innovative community development and community-based research hub affiliated with Algoma University, dedicated to building healthy, resilient communities. Its goal is to build Northern Ontario’s capacity to conduct research that contributes to social, economic and environmental justice in rural, Indigenous, and northern communities and provides evidence for informed policy and decision making.
About Algoma University: Algoma University, established in Sault Ste. Marie in 1965, offers a wide range of degrees and certificates spanning the liberal arts, sciences, and professional disciplines. The University also offers programming at growing campus locations in Brampton and Timmins. Algoma University has a Special Mission to cultivate cross-cultural learning between Indigenous populations and other communities. For more information, please visit www.algomau.ca.
About Confederation College: 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 7,000 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 $707.3 million annually.
About Lakehead University: Lakehead University is a fully comprehensive university with approximately 9,700 full-time equivalent students and over 2,000 faculty and staff at two campuses in Orillia and Thunder Bay, Ontario. Lakehead has nine faculties, including Business Administration, Education, Engineering, Graduate Studies, Health & Behavioural Sciences, Law, Natural Resources Management, Science & Environmental Studies, and Social Sciences & Humanities. Lakehead University’s achievements have been recognized nationally and internationally, including being ranked, once again, among Canada’s Top 10 primarily undergraduate universities in Maclean’s 2021 University Rankings; as well as included in the top half of Times Higher Education's 2022 World Universities Rankings for the third consecutive year, and the number one university in the world with fewer than 10,000 students in THE's 2022 Impact Rankings (which assesses institutions against the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals). Visit www.lakeheadu.ca.
About Niijii: Lakehead University's Niijii Indigenous Mentorship Program delivers educational programming and a hands-on experience to thousands of Indigenous youth throughout Northwestern Ontario. The program frequently visits regional school classrooms to conduct a multitude of activities, experiments, and motivational challenges. Niijii matches experienced university students (at the undergrad, graduate and post-graduate levels) with Indigenous high school students from all across the region to create a positive connection that both inspires and assists the high school student in thinking about post-secondary through learning about science and cultural based activities.
About Let’s Talk Science: Let’s Talk Science – a leading partner in Canadian education – is a national charitable organization committed to inspiring and empowering children and youth of all ages in Canada to develop the skills they need to participate and thrive in an ever-changing world. To accomplish this, Let’s Talk Science offers a comprehensive suite of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) based programs to support youth, educators, and volunteers across Canada. For more information about Let's Talk Science, visit letstalkscience.ca.
About Water First Education & Training Inc. (Water First): Water First is a registered Canadian charity that works in partnership with Indigenous communities to address water challenges through education, training and meaningful collaboration. Since 2009, Water First has collaborated with 60 Indigenous communities located in the lands now known as Canada while supporting Indigenous youth and young adults to pursue careers in water science. To learn more about Water First, visit www.waterfirst.ngo.