Ten Indigenous high school students from Northern Manitoba are experiencing the thrill of doing exploratory research first-hand at the University of Manitoba.
It’s part of the Verna J. Kirkness Science Education Program. Students from Frontier School District, representing First Nations, Metis and Inuit communities, are working in pairs with a post-doctoral or graduate student from the U of M, experiencing trailblazing research first-hand. The students are also staying in residence to further immerse themselves in the U of M’s exciting culture and campus lifestyle.
On May 17, Jim Rondeau, Minister of Healthy Living, Seniors and Consumer Affairs, will speak at a feast that will be held at Migizii Agamik on the Fort Garry Campus to celebrate the program. The Minister will be joined by Dr. Verna J. Kirkness.
This program creates fun opportunities for students to engage in research and experience life on campus. The program’s goal is to further excite the students’ interest in pursuing science and research at university, and in making a positive difference in their home communities.
“Education has a transformative power for students, their families and their communities,” said Dr. David T. Barnard, President and Vice-Chancellor at the University of Manitoba. “It is our honour to partner with the Verna J. Kirkness Foundation so that students from northern communities can experience and be inspired by laboratory science.”
Verna Kirkness graduated from the University of Manitoba in 1980 with a Master’s in Education after she completed her BA and B.Ed at the U of M as well. She is a member of the Fisher River Cree Nation, and a member of the Order of Manitoba and Order of Canada. She is a national leader in education in Canada who has inspired countless students and educators in both Aboriginal and non- Aboriginal communities.
The students in this year’s program are coming from communities throughout Manitoba’s Frontier School Division: Rorketon school in Rorketon; West Lynn Heights in Lynn Lake; Helen Betty Osborne school in Norway House; Frontier College Institute in Cranberry Portage; Frontier Mosakahiken school in Moose Lake; Leaf Rapids Education school in Leaf Rapids; and Minegoziibe Anishinabe school in Camperville.
The Office of the Vice-President Academic and Provost is a sponsor of the event and six faculty members from the University of Manitoba have been assigned to host the students in their laboratories. They include: Drs. Rotimi Aluko and James Friel in Human Nutritional Sciences; Drs. Nancy Ames and Curtis Rempel in the Richardson Centre for Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals; Soil Science’s Dr. Annemieke Farenhorst, NSERC Chair for Women in Science and Engineering; and Dr. Robert Hoppa in Anthropology.
“The Frontier School District students are not the only ones who benefit from this program. The mentors (the professors, graduate students, and post-doctoral students) relish the opportunity to give back to the community and to witness the students’ excitement and wonder of doing research for the first time,” said Dr. Ron Woznow, the founder of the Verna J. Kirkness Foundation.
Participating students are photographing their experience with the Verna J. Kirkness Science Education Program. To view photos, visit the University of Manitoba on Facebook.