Actua improves the educational outcome of Indigenous youth through for-credit, land-based education and by expanding opportunities for educators to learn.
Director, National Youth in STEM program(InSTEM) , Actua
Actua is on a mission to improve access to inclusive STEM education for youth nationwide. Four years ago, Actua expanded on its existing Indigenous Youth in STEM (InSTEM) program for youth aged 14 to 18 with a for-credit program designed for Indigenous high school youth. The program provides culturally- relevant, for-credit learning opportunities for Indigenous youth by drawing parallels between Indigenous land-based teachings and STEM, recognizing that Indigenous Peoples have always known about STEM.
Granting high school credits for land-based education
Indigenous knowledge and worldviews are at the core of western science. This principle governs Actua’s program, which grants high school credits to youth after completing a 10-day land camp. This model builds on Actua’s decades-long relationships with Indigenous communities nationally and allows for collaborative, co-created learning spaces. These relationships enable Actua to provide tailored programming that meets the unique cultural and educational priorities of the community engaged.
Actua’s land camps are led by Indigenous Knowledge Keepers and Elders who ensure content is grounded in the communities’ cultural and educational priorities. By administering high school credits to participants, Actua contributes to improved graduation rates among Indigenous youth.
Introducing land-based education to teaching professionals
In addition, Actua offers a teacher training program that helps educators learn how to incorporate Indigenous land-based knowledge into their classroom. This four-day training allows teachers to learn directly from Knowledge Keepers and STEM practitioners, offering an enhanced perspective to advance reconciliation in western education and reaffirm that Indigenous knowledge plays a key role in the study of sciences.
This July, Actua will deliver its InSTEM teacher training program with one of its network members, Virtual Ventures at Carleton University, as part of a for-credit land camp during an InSTEM summit in Akwesasne First Nation. The summit will feature Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers from four cultural backgrounds: Haudenosaunee, Anishinaabe, Blackfoot, and Cree. The summit will welcome 25 Indigenous high-school youth and 20 teachers. Participating teachers will receive Actua’s InSTEM Teacher Training microcredential and youth will receive a high school credit.
Actua’s network annually engages 35,000 Indigenous youth across 200 First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities in culturally-relevant STEM experiences that allow participants to recognize and celebrate their existing cultural knowledge as Indigenous Peoples. Its decades-long work has resulted in systemic impact through expanded Indigenous curriculum, improved educational outcomes for Indigenous youth, and the growing recognition that Indigenous knowledge is equal to and often forms the basis of what we today call STEM.