While most people associate Science North with visiting the snowflake-shaped science centre on the shores of Sudbury's Ramsey Lake, that's not the case for thousands of kids in remote parts of Northern Ontario.
Since the early 1990s, Science North has had an outreach program for Indigenous communities in Northern Ontario.
The science centre was able to ramp up its visits significantly since opening a satellite office in Thunder Bay in 2010.
Science North staffers either visit the communities in person to offer fun, culturally relevant science workshops, or offer these programs virtually through the use of technology.
Thanks to two new private sector contributions, Science North said it'll be able to expand the reach of its Northern Ontario Outreach Science Programs.
TD Bank has announced a contribution of $300,000 to the outreach programs (although some of those funds are going to upgrade the TD Canada Trust Toddler Treehouse, a play area for young children at the science centre).
The Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) is also contributing $85,500 to benefit the same program.
“The funding announcement today will make a very big difference in our ability to bring these programs to First Nations communities,” said Science North CEO Guy Labine at an April 20 press conference.
“We will offer repeated experiences that will build relationships with audiences and engage them in science whether through our bluecoat visits, videoconferencing workshops or through teacher training.”
The science centre expects it'll be able to visit 130 First Nations communities over the next three years, as opposed to 44 it has visited since 2014.
It will also expand school programs from 193 to 600, summer science camps from 39 to 55 and e-workshops from 18 to 86.
Andy Pilkington, TD's executive vice-president of branch banking, said the funding is an extension of the bank's “long-standing commitment to aboriginal communities and creating opportunities for young people.
“So with First Nations, Métis and Inuit youth being the fastest-growing demographic in the country, these programs really are a critical investment in our collective future, and one TD is incredibly proud to support,” Pilkington said.
His comments were echoed by Jean La Rose, CEO of APTN.
“Education is one of the many powerful and meaningful ways to foster, encourage and enhance the success of youth in First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities,” La Rose said. “We're proud to be part of this initiative.”
Martin Bayer, past tribal chairman of the United Chiefs and Councils of Manitoulin, said it's great that children in remote Aboriginal communities are able to take part in Science North programming.
“We can't always come to Sudbury on a regular basis to experience everything that Science North has to offer,” he said.