Sudbury·Up North

Timmins, Ont. girl petitions to sign up for boys-only robotics class

Caroline Martel is raising awareness about her daughter being turned down from a library program because she is a girl because she thinks that everyone should be allowed to participate.

Northern Ontario library tells nine-year-old girl she can't take part in summertime program

Cash Cayen holds a Timmins Library newsletter that advertises a boys-only robotics program. She asked to take part, but was refused because of her gender. The library has since reversed its decision. (

A nine-year-old girl who started an online petition to take part in a boys-only robotics class at a Timmins, Ont., library will now be able to take part.

The Timmins Public Library advertisement for this "special program" was challenged by a local girl who wanted to take part in the session. (

The Timmins Public Library is now offering the robotics session to all children between the ages of 9-12.

It was welcome news to Cash Cayen's mother, who said "we need to change the way our society thinks."

"The CEO of the library sent me a text message directing me to their Facebook page to see their official media release," Caroline Martel said.

"The media release [said] they 'wish to apologize to the public and Science Timmins for the misunderstanding related to the Robotics event which was designed to encourage improved literacy through reading.' Although I disagree with the claim that this was a 'misunderstanding,' Cash and I are happy with their decision to open the session up to all children regardless of their gender."

Close to 30,000 people signed the petition, and many shared stories about discrimination.

"Gendered approaches to education are extremely problematic," Martel said in a post on

"From all the stories you've shared the last few days, it's clear that this isn't only a problem here in Timmins, but a much larger societal problem. We need to change the way our society thinks, and we as a society need to empower and invest in our girls."

Caroline Martel and library board chair Michael Doody spoke with CBC Sudbury's Up North radio program on Thursday about the situation that has raised the ire of many:


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