The University of Winnipeg



Boeing supports Indigenous STEAM Camp with 4-year funding commitment

A child uses a stylus to work on a computer, while a camp staff member watches

More than 200 youth attended Wii Chiiwaakanak Learning Centre’s 2023 Indigenous STEAM camp.

A new, four-year funding commitment from Boeing will help hundreds of Indigenous youth attend summer camp at the Wii Chiiwaakanak Learning Centre. The funding will provide $22,500 USD each year for the Centre’s Indigenous Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM) Camp from 2024 to 2027.

“As part of our community investment strategy, Boeing supports science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education and workforce development programs to help inspire the next generation of innovators,” said Teri Thompson, General Manager at Boeing Canada Winnipeg. “We’re really proud to support a program like this, and believe it will have a direct impact on the number of Indigenous youth who choose to pursue STEM careers in the future.”

This will allow us to be a consistent resource for our community over the next four summers, so we’re very excited for that.

Angeline Nelson

Angeline Nelson, Director of Community Learning & Engagement for Wii Chiiwaakanak, said the multi-year funding commitment helps provide stability for the camp.

“Engagement with community should always be consistent,” she said. “This will allow us to be a consistent resource for our community over the next four summers, so we’re very excited for that.”

“Wii Chiiwaakanak’s reduced-barrier programming, including the exciting summer STEAM Camp, are among the most accessible entry points for inner-city Indigenous youth into The University of Winnipeg,” said UWinnipeg’s Interim Associate Vice-President, Indigenous, Dr. Chantal Fiola. “We thank Boeing for their generous financial support which widens a pathway for more Indigenous youth to access UW and consider pursuing postsecondary education with us.”

Nelson said the Indigenous STEAM Camp was first offered in 2019 to “help Indigenous youth see themselves as future scientists, engineers, and geoscientists.”

“Representation is an important aspect of this camp,” she said. “Our team is creating safe spaces on a university campus that will impact the next generation of scientists, where Indigenous Peoples can see themselves in all areas of STEAM.”

Since 2019 the camp has grown each year. Boeing also provided $10,000 USD funding for the camp in 2023, making the total investment $100,000 USD over five years.

“Last year was our biggest year hosting our Indigenous STEAM camp,” Nelson said. “We had over 230 kids registered, which is the most ever we’ve had. This multi-year funding from Boeing will allow us to maintain that growth, with the possibility that other donors could support this unique initiative.”

Wii Chiiwaakanak relies mostly on external funding and donors to support its STEAM camp and other community programs.

“We want all of our programming to be accessible for youth and families of all backgrounds,” Nelson said. “That means we have to address barriers such as transportation, fees, food security, and provide culturally safe spaces. We provide a small breakfast, some snacks and lunch, so no child is left out.”

Nelson said the STEAM Camp also provides a space where Indigenous youth have a sense of safety.

“I think people appreciate having a space where you see yourself represented in not only the summer students, but lots of the teachers and most of the facilitators,” Nelson said. “I think it’s really important to feel at home and comfortable, especially when you’re on a university campus.”

One of the ways Wii Chiiwaakanak achieves this is through a collaboration with the Community Education Development Association (CEDA).

“They essentially staff half of our summer camp,” Nelson said. “They provide anywhere from 12 to 16 summer students every year, and we’re really proud of that partnership.”

This year’s Indigenous STEAM Camp will run from July 8 to August 2 and is open to youth in Grades 1-8. Thanks, in part, to the new funding they are receiving from Boeing, Wii Chiiwaakanak is hoping to engage over 200 youth again this summer.

If you would like to support Wii Chiiwaakanak Learning Center programming, donations can be made through the University of Winnipeg Foundation.

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