Six Nations Polytechnic's STEAM Academy praised in its pilot year

The STEAM Academy program at Six Nations Polytechnic is unique and exciting, says Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpott, who toured the school Monday.

Program's combined high school and college diploma approach 'is nothing short of revolutionary,' says minister

Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpott being shown around Six Nations Polytechnic's STEAM Academy by the school's principal Aaron Hobbs and Six Nations Polytechnic President Rebecca Jamieson. (Rhiannon Johnson/CBC)

The STEAM Academy program at Six Nations Polytechnic is unique and exciting, says Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpott, who toured the school Monday.

"I don't think I've ever seen anything quite like this," she said.

"It really is a one of a kind program and it's very exciting and certainly something that I'll be sharing with other communities as I continue my travels across the country."

The school at the polytechnic's campus in Brantford, Ont., combines Ontario Secondary School and Ontario College curriculums across the disciplines of science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics.

Though the STEAM academy is run by Six Nations Polytechnic, the school is open to students of all backgrounds and abilities. It will both better prepare them for the workforce, as they graduate with both a high school and college diploma, and be tuition-free. (@snpsteam/Twitter)

The students enrol in Grade 9 and can begin taking college-level courses as early as Grade 10. In five to six years, students graduate with both an Ontario Secondary School diploma as well as an Ontario College diploma. 

"The STEAM Academy's approach to learning is nothing short of revolutionary," said Philpott. 

The academy is open to both Indigenous and non-Indigenous students, an aspect of the program which Philpott says speaks directly to reconciliation. 

The curriculum combines traditional Indigenous knowledge with classes that meet education standards across the province. 

"The STEAM Academy forms another pillar in Six Nations Polytechnic's commitment to offering all students an innovative, high quality, culturally rich educational experience," said Aaron Hobbs, principal of the STEAM Academy.

Indigenous Services Canada provided funding to assist in the launch of the academy's pilot program year and continues to provide support for Six Nations Polytechnic for post-secondary education and tuition. 

From left, Rebecca Jamieson, Six Nations Polytechnic President; Ava Hill, Chief of the Six Nations of the Grand River; Jane Philpott, Minister of Indigenous Services; Aaron Hobbs, principal of the STEAM Academy. (Rhiannon Johnson/CBC)

After her tour of the STEAM Academy, Philpott travelled to Six Nations of the Grand River Reserve to announce the expansion of a water treatment plant. The extension will provide treated water to two federally funded schools that previous had their water delivered by truck. 

In a news release, Six Nations Chief Ava Hill said this water main extension is the first phase toward expanding the water distribution system throughout the entire community.