Historically, Indigenous Peoples have been under-represented in Canadian business, particularly in the technology, innovation, and entrepreneurial sectors. These areas are key drivers of economic growth—and organizations across the country are beginning to understand the value of these missing perspectives.
Indigenous Peoples encompass 3.9% of the Canadian population, and yet only 1.4% of these individuals have post-secondary STEM credentials. This presents a significant opportunity for both Indigenous populations and the Canadian economy as a whole.
By more deeply engaging Indigenous populations in the technology and innovation fields, Indigenous workers could potentially unlock hundreds of billions of dollars in the Canadian economy. And beyond that, engagement efforts ensure that the technology sector is meaningfully engaged in reconciliation and is invested in creating space for diversity in the Canadian workforce.
These voices are essential to the development of our tech industry, both now, and in the future.SEE IN LIVE ACTION
In response to this issue, Indigenous leaders are taking a proactive approach to getting their communities involved. Educators at Kenjgewin Teg reached out to the Centre for Indigenous Innovation & Technology (CIIT) to help them further their goals of empowering their students.
The result was the Anishinaabek Youth Ambassadors Tech Camp; a collaborative effort on behalf of the CIIT, its associates, and Kenjgewin Teg, occurring at the Kenjgewin Teg Campus, M’Chigeeng First Nation.
This pilot initiative was the first of its kind; a program that provides technical training, education, and support to Indigenous youth. The Camp worked with youth aged 15 – 24 who had the desire to explore new opportunities in technological and entrepreneurial fields.
The tech camp included several key resources designed to empower these youth with the skills they would need to succeed in the business world:
Overall, the tech camp provided these students with a perspective they wouldn’t find through traditional educational curriculum: an Anishinaabemowin community-based approach to education, professional training, and business opportunity.
The Anishinaabek Youth Ambassadors Tech Camp is just one of many new programs being implemented by coalitions across Canada. These organizations support the growth of Indigenous communities and devote resources to programming that provides technological training for underserved populations.
Through its collaboration with the CIIT, Kenjgewin Teg helped underscore the importance of lifelong learning to its students and opened their eyes to the wealth of opportunities available to Indigenous Peoples in the tech world.
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