New summer camp offers STEM education from an Indigenous perspective

Gaǫdewayęhstaˀ Ohwęjagehka:ˀ (Learning on the Land) is a new, 15-day summer camp that is offers Indigenous high school credits science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education from an Indigenous perspective.

15-day "Learning on the Land" program offers high school credit upon completion

During the course, students create a community map that is continually updated with STEM-related highlights. (Actua/Western Engineering Outreach/Six Nations)

High school students from Aamjiwnaang First Nation and Six Nations of The Grand River are taking part in a summer camp that teaches science, technology, engineering and math — also known as STEM — from an Indigenous perspective.

Gaǫdewayęhstaˀ Ohwęjagehka:ˀ (Learning on the Land) is a 15-day course taking place at the Six Nations Polytechnic campus in Ohsweken, Ont. It is one of five similar camps in Ontario organized by Actua, a national organization dedicated to promoting STEM among youth.

"It's part of our national program to reach out to Indigenous communities and youth ... and introduce them to STEM," said Doug Dokis, senior advisor for Actua's national InSTEM program.

"It's to take them on the land and help them to recognize and identify with ... Indigenous land-based knowledge and connecting [it with STEM]."

The organization ran a pilot camp last year and this year is an official launch.

Students participating in a medicinal hike at the Five Oaks Education and Retreat Centre in Paris, Ont. (Actua/Western Engineering Outreach/Six Nations)

Students receive a high school credit for participation in the camp. During the course, they are connected with local knowledge-keepers and elders.

Dokis had just visited a sister camp organized by Actua in Akwesasne, a Mohawk nation on both banks of the St. Lawrence River.

He told Afternoon Drive host Chris dela Torre about how students there caught and dissected sturgeon and were instructed by a knowledge-keeper about how the spinal cord of the fish is used to make traditional lacrosse sticks.

"Kids learn better when they're involved directly with experiences on the land," Dokis said. "Indigenous communities and people have always known this, so we've been ... developing these programs in as many communities across the country as we can."

Tap on the player to hear more of their conversation.