Actua in the North

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Actua in the North

$250,000 - $500,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

A leader in educational outreach, Actua has a twenty-year track record of providing hands-on, confidence-building programming in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) to ALL youth, regardless of their location, socio-economic situation, gender or ability. We are committed to engaging young Canadians (ages six to sixteen) who are typically underrepresented and underserved in STEM, and we have invested heavily in the development and delivery of customized programming for specific youth audiences that virtually no other organization reaches.

To this end, Actua introduces Aboriginal youth to life-changing STEM experiences, and over the years, we, along with our member organizations located at Canadian colleges and universities, have engaged tens of thousands of First Nations, Métis and Inuit Peoples through our programming. Twelve years ago, as a way to engage isolated communities located beyond the geographical reach of our network, we developed Actua in the North, a customized outreach program for Aboriginal youth living north of 60°.

At the time, our northern member, located in Nunavut, lacked the staff and resource capacity to deliver our programming to its local communities. We, in turn, sent a team of instructors to provide assistance, and in 2000, Actua’s first northern camp took place in Iqaluit. The success of our project spread quickly through word-of-mouth to other northern communities, highlighting the need for an outreach model in Canada’s North. Since then, Actua has developed its own highly-trained Outreach Team, which now delivers dynamic locally and culturally relevant programming to 30-40 northern communities annually.

Actua’s northern programming sparks a curiosity for science that extends beyond the classroom. Through school workshops and one-week camps, youth not only discover but experience various careers through fun hands-on activities that emulate what it is like to solve real-life challenges. We work with community partners to showcase local and emerging career opportunities and engage local STEM professionals as mentors whenever possible. We also engage local Elders as well as other Aboriginal role models who impart traditional knowledge and help youth make their own cultural connections to the study of science.

Skills in STEM are critical to helping underrepresented groups realize their potential. They help build the confidence needed to seek educational opportunities, establish economic independence, and find a voice in society. By extending our programming, Actua fulfilled a growing need to provide Northern youth the chance to discover new skills and interests. In this way, we are helping form a first-generation of post-secondary students and contributing to the development of a much-needed diverse perspective to Canada’s economy.

Evaluations of Actua’s Northern programming consistently demonstrate that we are increasing awareness of, and interest in, science. A recent evaluation of our health science camps indicated that 87 percent of participants strongly agreed with the statement “I am excited about the career opportunities I learned about,” while 70 percent indicated they now want to study health sciences at college or university. These results are reinforced by the ever-increasing demand for our programming and through the excellent feedback we receive from community contacts, parents, Elders, and volunteers.

About You
About You
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Jennifer Flanagan

About You, Your Group, or Your Organization



, ON

Please confirm that this project could benefit First Nations, Métis and Inuit Peoples


What categories best describe who your group or organization serves (check all that apply)

First Nations, Métis and Inuit people.

What best describes your group or organization

Non-profit organization.

How long have you, your group, or your organization been operating?

More than 5 years

Define your idea / project in 1-2 short sentences

From the Yukon, across the Northwest Territories, to Nunavut, Actua annually inspires thousands of Aboriginal youth to achieve their potential through STEM.

Select the stage that best applies to your solution

Expanding (it has been running for a while, has grown, you know it is making a difference and now you want to expand)

Social Impact
Please tell us about the social impact of your idea or proect

Actua in the North offers a positive, safe environment where youth are free to experiment and learn from their mistakes.This hands-on, real-life approach increases curiosity and confidence and invites youth to explore and achieve the exciting academic and career opportunities available to them across a variety of STEM fields.

Involving local leaders, Elders, and Aboriginal instructors provides youth with exceptional role models and creates a shared experience among the community. At the same time, through our culturally relevant content, we facilitate the science of local and regional development so that youth understand how local development affects them. It also enables youth to comprehend the role they may play as participants in a strong and diverse local workforce.

Your Future Goal(s): Tell us what you hope to achieve with your idea or project in the next year

Beyond growing our program, we will strengthen our impact by returning to communities we already serve.

In 5 years, what will be different as a result of your idea/project?

In five years, as a result of Actua in the North:
- An additional 15,000 to 20,000 Aboriginal youth will have increased confidence and desire to pursue studies in STEM fields;
- Northern youth will have a greater awareness of the STEM career opportunities available to them in their local communities and across the country;
- We will have promoted healthy living and Northern health science careers, inspiring Northern youth to pursue their dreams in these critical fields.

Tell us about the people/ partnerships that are already involved and why they are important to your idea or project.

Actua partners with local schools to deliver hundreds of workshops. We also partner with local communities and community organizations (Hamlet offices, Inuit associations, Friendship Centres) to deliver week-long camps throughout the summer. Communities promote the camps locally and provide access to suitable camp locations. In turn, all programs are provided free of charge.

Local Elders, parents and volunteers bring traditional knowledge and cultural experiences to our camps. Through partnerships with cultural organizations such as the Nunavut Sivuniksavut Program, we hire local Aboriginal students to assist us with program delivery. In addition to being role models, they are also cultural liaisons.

If there are other people/partners that you will reach out to tell us who they are and why they will be important to your idea or project.

Actua will be working to strengthen its relationships with Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. and regional Inuit associations. We also hope to develop stronger relations with Aboriginal organizations in Yukon Territory and Northwest Territories as we continue to expand our programming. These partnerships are absolutely essential as we work to ensure that our programming meets the local needs and interests of the communities we engage.

Describe the kinds of support you receive (other than money) or will need to support your idea or project (e.g.: donated, space, equipment and volunteers)

Actua’s community and cultural partners provide a variety of in-kind support that facilitates the delivery of northern programming. Camps and workshops often take place at local community centres or schools that are offered free of charge through relationships with our member and Aboriginal community organizations. Actua also receives assistance from volunteers including high school students and local residents. Many of our community contacts in the north also provide local travel and accommodations to our outreach staff.

Do you currently have funding for your idea or project?

Yes (answer the next two questions)