Mi'kmaq students in Sudbury to learn about science and technology

A group of Indigenous students from Nova Scotia are visiting Sudbury this week to learn more about science and technology.

Goal of Digital Mi’kmaq program is to encourage Indigenous students to consider STEM fields

Students with the Digital Mi'kmaq program visited the SNOLAB in Sudbury on Monday. (Submitted by Digital Mi'kmaq)

A group of Indigenous students from Nova Scotia are visiting Sudbury this week to learn more about science and technology.

They're part of an enrichment program called Digital Mi'kmaq, a not-for-profit agency working to increase the number of Indigenous youth pursuing a post-secondary education in science, technology, engineering and math.

The program started about a year ago and Sudbury is the first field trip the students have gone on.

On Monday, the students got to visit the SNOLAB, an underground science lab that specializes in neutrino and dark matter physics. It's located 2km below the surface in Vale's Creighton Mine.

Kyle Simon, a student at Annapolis Valley First Nation School, says visiting places like the SNOLAB is making him think about what he wants to do for his career. He says he's never found himself to be a strong science student.

"Just experiencing what they do inside this lab changed my perspective," he said.

"So I think I'm going to take biology again."

Jamey Toney-Gagnon, a Rankin School of the Narrows student, says she's hoping to pursue a career in geology or business. She says getting into a working lab now is teaching her what skills she needs for whatever job she ends up in.

Kyle Simon and Jamey Toney-Gagnon are both a part of the Digital Mi'kmaq program. (Submitted by Digital Mi'kmaq)

"Even learning about the things we learned when we were down there, those skills are transferable," she said.

"Teamwork is very important as a scientist which they were explaining. If you don't work well together, you're not going to be able to find anything right."

Currently, the program has 15 students in it from a number of First Nations communities in Nova Scotia. While in Sudbury, the students will also tour the Living With Lakes Centre at Laurentian University, visit a giant crater and learn about the re-greening efforts around Greater Sudbury.

Director Marni Fullterton says by exposing students to places such as the SNOLAB, the hope is they'll seriously consider studying science and technology.

"That they'll be inspired to pursue physics, actually, they'll be hooked," she said. "We found that is just takes a moment, it takes so little to impact kids."

With files from Angela Gemmill