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From L to R: Amanda Fontes and Kelsey Papineau, Indigenous Science Student Representatives. Photo by: Mike Latschislaw.

Indigenous science students are making a difference

March 17, 2015 — 

As Indigenous Student Representatives of the Science Students Association, Amanda Fontes and Kelsey Papineau are passionate about finding opportunities to develop an inclusive and supportive learning environment that promotes Indigenous student success, and enhances the university experience of Indigenous students like themselves.

These newly created positions have kept the pair, both aspiring pre-med students, very busy this year. While their roles as student representatives continue to evolve, their main goals include improving communication with students, faculty, the wider campus community, and organizing outreach events to encourage Indigenous youth to consider a post-secondary education in science.

“Our events have ranged from an information session on the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Undergraduate Student Research Awards, (USRA), to collaboration with University of Manitoba Aboriginal Students Association (UMASA) for the Canadians for a New Partnership event,” said Fontes.

For Papineau, the most memorable event this past year was volunteering with Let’s Talk Science, a national organization of university student volunteers, at the Turtle Island Community Centre in Winnipeg. “I was very excited to attend this event and do hands-on activities with the children, it was extremely rewarding to see how much they enjoyed participating in science!”

Over the past year the two have worked with many members of the university including former Dean of Science, Mark Whitmore, and Deborah Young, the Executive Lead of Indigenous Achievement. They are also active participants on the newly established Faculty of Science Indigenous Achievement Committee.

“I am delighted with the enthusiasm and hard work of Amanda and Kelsey,” said Whitmore. “They have already made key contributions to this work, with their newsletter, mailing lists, engagement of students, and the wisdom and ideas they are bringing forward. They are making huge contributions to our progress.”

“As we look into the future, our goal is to continue to improve on communication with our students using social media, mailing lists and more. We also hope that the current renovations to the science lounge will help to meet this objective, and create a welcoming environment,” said Fontes.

Both Fontes and Papineau, look forward to the seeing what future impact these initiatives will have on First Nations, Métis, and Inuit students overall.

The Faculty of Science is organizing a planning session on Indigenous Achievement open to all faculty, staff and students. The round table discussion will be held on Thursday, March 19 at 2:30 p.m. in room 108 St. John’s College.

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