||The Prairies Region has the largest proportion of aboriginal people in Canada and the fastest growing segment of society here is aboriginal youth. It would be a big loss to science and engineering if the talent of such an important segment of the population is not tapped. At the University of Saskatchewan alone in 2006/07 approximately 11% of the enrolled students were of aboriginal ancestry. 72% of these aboriginal students were female. However most of those students were registered in programs such as nursing, education and arts (native studies), it is very important to find ways to involved aboriginal youth, and particularly females, in science and engineering. Out of the concern for these concerning numbers the idea of sending graduate students in natural sciences, engineering, or health sciences to spend a significant period of time in middle level schools (grades 5 – 8) with predominantly aboriginal students evolved. This idea became the Science Ambassador program.
One version of the Science Ambassador program began in The Pas and Opaswayak Cree Nation, Manitoba in the spring of 2008 and has been a great success. It is a combined partnership between the Opaswayak Education Authority, Kelsey School Division, University College of the North, and the University of Saskatchewan, with financial support from NSERC/Cameco Chair budget and MERN. Within the program a student or students (grad or 4th year in first degree, within a field of science) comes from the University of Saskatchewan to work with the students and staff of the two school divisions. The student/students spends 4 – 8 weeks with the students, on site, providing experiences in science that matches the curriculum of the specific grade which are not always considered by the teachers. They provide support to the teachers and the idea that science is fun to the students. This presentation will describe the program as it looks in The Pas and Opaswayak Cree Nation.