October 4, 2023

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New land-based instructional program combines Western science and Indigenous tradition

New land-based instructional program combines Western science and Indigenous tradition

Removed from his residence in northern Ontario, Moxy Manitowabi just lately joined 16 different Indigenous youth in rural Nova Scotia to meld conventional information with Western science in a program known as Melkiknuawti — Mi’kmaw for ‘which provides you energy.’

“I moved right here from Ontario, simply me and my mother and I felt actually disconnected from the land and the tradition round right here… I felt like I wanted to be extra related. So, yeah, it has been very enjoyable,” stated Manitowabi, a member of the Wiikwemkoong First Nation on Manitoulin Island in Lake Huron.

“It is necessary to remain related and never overlook our tradition, our language, and our land.” The week-long program is hosted at a former farm now known as Windhorse on Nova Scotia’s South Shore. It is developed by Ulnooweg Schooling Centre, an Indigenous registered charity, and SuperNOVA , an initiative from Dalhousie College selling STEM — which stands for science, know-how, engineering and arithmetic.

It is free and offers lodging, meals and transportation for contributors.

The Ulnooweg Schooling Centre which owns Windhorse farm is an Indigenous registered charitable group that goals to empower Indigenous communities all through Atlantic Canada. (Dylan Jones/CBC)

“We’re immersing them in a wide range of STEM-based studying actions in addition to cultural actions,” stated Caitlin MacPhail, growth co-ordinator with SuperNOVA at Dalhousie College.

“We’re actually giving them the chance to mix Indigenous science and Western science and simply see how these two can come collectively in a very collaborative method,” stated MacPhail, who can be one of many lead organizers for Melkiknuawti and a member of the Siksika First Nation in southern Alberta.

Melkiknuawti describes the concept information of nature generally is a path towards energy. This system itself was impressed by comparable ones created by Actua, a nationwide group that helps STEM studying for youth by means of its members at universities and schools throughout Canada.

Caitlin MacPhail is a lead organizers for Melkiknuawti and growth coordinator with SuperNOVA at Dalhousie College. (Dylan Jones/CBC)

Participant Dawson Smith from the Acadia First Nations in Nova Scotia says his mom is ecstatic to see him getting again to his roots and that it is necessary to maintain the tradition alive.

“Our elders, they misplaced all their tradition and their language and I determine it might be nice [for me] to be taught it once more.”

Holly Griffiths, a mechanical engineer by commerce, has labored with Ulnooweg on numerous applications, together with Digital Mi’kmaq, a program bringing collectively main Canadian professionals, scientists, corporations, universities and STEM-focused organizations to ship instructional programming to Indigenous youth. (Dylan Jones/CBC)

Holly Griffiths, director of science and innovation with Ulnooweg Schooling Centre, says the purpose of the week-long program is to not solely get Indigenous youth enthusiastic about STEM but in addition encouraging the thought of etuaptmumk.

Etuaptmumk is a Mi’kmaw phrase which means two-eyed seeing, a perspective that mixes each western and Indigenous teachings somewhat than separating the 2.

Program contributors and instructors out on a nature stroll the place they recognized tree species and measured them to find out their age (Dylan Jones/CBC)

“It [Indigenous science] was type of separated and never handled or characterised as scientific information, when it has a historical past like 1000’s of years,” stated Griffiths.

“So bringing that again full circle, and simply introducing science and STEM ideas in a extra significant method, by commentary, and by absolutely immersing your self in nature and all of your 5 senses, it is tremendous necessary if you wish to create these significant connections.”

In line with Nancy Turner, a researcher who has studied Indigenous information of crops and environments in northwestern North America for over 40 years, Indigenous peoples have recognized greater than 400 completely different species of medicinal crops, lichens, fungi and algae. 

Indigenous individuals make up roughly 4 per cent of adults in Canada, however lower than two per cent of individuals working in science, know-how, engineering, and arithmetic occupations are Indigenous, in keeping with the Convention Board of Canada, an unbiased analysis group.

Jonny Hird, one of many content material instructors, says he hopes applications like these could make STEM extra accessible and assist change contributors’ minds in terms of how they personally take into consideration STEM ideas.

“I discover for the indigenous youth, there’s so many obstacles for entering into STEM, however there isn’t any obstacles for going exterior and simply studying concerning the world round you and experiencing STEM in a extra in particular person method.”

MacPhail stated they’d like to broaden Melkiknuawti to the remainder of the province, possibly even throughout the nation.

“We might like to see this be capable of be provided not only one week, in the summertime, we might love for this to turn out to be one thing that we’re capable of supply yr spherical in a wide range of communities throughout Mi’kma’ki.”