Actua’s National Indigenous Youth in STEM (InSTEM) program incorporates current research and commonly accepted practices in educational pedagogy and Indigenous approaches to education and community engagement. Guided by our Indigenous leadership team, each year, Actua engages over 35,000 First Nations, Inuit and Métis (FNIM) youth in over 200 communities nationwide through school workshops (K-12) and summer camp programs for grades 5-8. These programs build confidence and skills while inspiring students to achieve their potential through STEM.
Now, as a means to deepen the impact of its work and contribute to systemic sustainable change in Indigenous education, Actua is working with FNIM communities, education authorities, and network members at post secondary institutions across Canada to advance a new model of for-credit land-based learning. This new model is specifically designed to move the dial on Indigenous high school participation and graduation rates.
Building on the premise that Indigenous people have always known about STEM and that land-based learning is Indigenous learning, high school students that participate in for-credit land camps and in-school land-based courses, gain high school credits. Undergraduate instructors (Indigenous whenever possible) deliver additional STEM content that is integrated with the land-based learning. Students emerge with renewed pride in their Indigenous identity and appreciation for the value of their unique Indigenous perspectives. They show increased confidence in their ability to succeed in school and increased interest in pursuing further studies and careers in STEM.
For more information on land-based learning, check out our discussion paper on how land-based #STEM education can and should be used to align Indigenous ways of knowing with western education systems and advance reconciliation in Canada. We acknowledge, recognize and thank the Indigenous educators and subject matter experts whose voices contributed to this paper.
Actua’s InSTEM program is designed to provide students K-12 and beyond with next step opportunities as they advance from one level of engagement to another. Student alumni from the for-credit land-based courses receive opportunities to engage as interns, supporting instructors in delivering programs for younger students. As these high school students progress on to post-secondary education, they receive valued employment opportunities as instructors. In the interim, students participate in many leadership opportunities and are active voices in the ongoing development of our programs.
“Land based learning in combination with a credit is spectacular as it not only lets us explore our roots, but it also allows us to move forward in are high school career – this way we don’t have to pick one or the other.” – Ganaaboute Gagne, Ottawa, Ontario
For insight into the For-Credit InSTEM model we invite you to explore the video below.