Home Arts, Culture & Education Education Discovering possibilities in Canada’s Northern mining sector

Discovering possibilities in Canada’s Northern mining sector

Testing the physical characteristics of minerals is one of the Mining Matters hands-on activities.

Students in Canada’s North are getting the chance to experience some unique educational programming. Mining Matters, a Canadian charitable organization focused on raising Earth science awareness in students, educators, and the public, is teaching these young Canadians about Canada’s geology and mineral resources, about mining and its relevance to quality of life, and about the importance of education to opening doors in the future.

Travelling to the Yukon, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Northern Quebec and Northern Ontario from their home base in Toronto, Mining Matters educational teams deliver signa­ture interactive Mining Rocks Earth Science Programs to elementary and high school students. Using hands-on educational resources, created by educators and Earth science experts to meet curriculum expectations, the teams inspire teachers and spark student interest in Earth science.

Students stayed after school to enjoy amethyst jewellery making.

“Mining Matters, originally established in 1994, has become increasingly known in Canada’s North for its Indigenous Communities Education and Outreach Programs,” states Mining Matters President Patricia Dillon.

Developed with sensitivity to the important role Indigenous communities play in resources stewardship, management, and development, the programs raise awareness of the importance of education and the diverse career opportunities available in the mineral exploration and mining industries. The program includes teacher workshops, camp and school learning opportunities, and community engagement events. In 2016, Mining Matters delivered 33 Mining Rocks Earth Science Programs, reaching over 2,100 northern youth, 76 teachers, and 500 community members. Often, communities invite the Mining Matters team to return in subsequent years to deliver enhanced programs and build on foundational knowledge.

One 2016 success story comes from the Northwest Territories Sahtu Region, where 134 students in grades six to 12, and 17 teachers at schools in Fort Good Hope, Déline, Norman Wells, and Tulita participated in customized programs — an exciting first for both Mining Matters and the region. The pilot program was planned and delivered in partnership with the Government of the Northwest Territories, Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment (GNWT ITI). Chief T’Selehye, Ehtseo Ayha, Mackenzie Mountain, and Chief Albert Wright schools welcomed Mining Matters staff along with Frank Pope, GNWT ITI Regional Petroleum Advisor and Valerie Gordon, Client Services and Community Relations Division of the GNWT ITI.

Pope recalls, “It was very hands-on. Everyone was very engaged and had thoughts to share. The recess bell would go and nobody would move! They were enthralled with what they were learning.”

Another successful partnership between Mining Matters, the Dehcho First Nations, the Government of the Northwest Territories, Departments of Education, Culture and Employ­ment and Industry, Tourism and Investment recently gave high school students in Fort Liard, Fort Simpson and Fort Providence the chance to explore mining projects in the Northwest Territories and careers offered by the industry, along with job roles, education requirements, and potential salaries. A special activity examined diamonds, looking at diamond-bearing deposits and the modern technology used for their discovery, extraction, and processing. Students even stayed after school to enjoy soapstone carving and amethyst jewellery making.

Students carve soapstone in Fort Simpson as part of the Mining Matters program.

Numerous companies, government departments and educational institutions support Mining Matters, recognizing the importance of exciting students about Earth science and the wide array of careers in the mineral exploration and mining industries. Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC), a Mining Matters supporter, provided $150K in funding for the Mining Rocks Earth Science Programs, allowing the group to reach more communities and develop six new hands-on activities related to environmental actions through the mineral resource development cycle.

Individuals often go above and beyond to support the group’s work. Glenn Nolan, a former Chief of the Missanabie Cree First Nation and first Indigenous President of the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada, and partner Maureen Hatherley are celebrating 2017 — a banner year in Canadian, Yukon, and mining history — by tackling the Yukon River Quest. The marathon canoe and kayak race challenges paddlers to test their endurance, racing 715 km/444 miles from Whitehorse to Dawson City. Passionate about mineral education, the couple asks supporters to sponsor their race by donating to Mining Matters.

Says Nolan, “We couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Nation than to bring together those things we love: canoeing, a physically challenging event; honouring the significant role Indigenous people play in mining in Canada; and the importance of mining to all Canadians.”

Mining Matters thanks the many individuals, foundations, corporations and governments that recognize the difference Mining Matters is making to education in the North, opening doors to a wider world of possibilities for students. The people at Mining Matters are passionate about their mandate to broaden students’ understanding of Earth science, and they hope to make a difference for years to come.

Submitted by Mining Matters.

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