Five Indigenous schools from across Alberta, Mistassiniy School, O’Chiese First Nation School, Paddle Prairie School, Piikani Nation Secondary School, and Sunchild School, were recently selected to participate in Inside Education’s 12th Youth Environmental Leadership Summit, “Generate and Navigate 2023”. The Summit took place in Canmore, Alberta, and brought together 20 high schools from Alberta and northeast BC to learn about the science, issues, technology, and careers related to energy, climate, and water.
The three-day Summit gave six students and two teachers from each school the unique opportunity to engage with over 70 expert guests from academic institutions, industry, government, Alberta’s Indigenous community, and environmental groups. The experts included Jasveen Brar, the ED of the Youth Climate Lab, Jacob Irving, the CEO of the Energy Council of Canada, and Autumn EagleSpeaker from Keepers of the Water. The participants engaged in hands-on workshops that focused on energy and water, such as wind turbine model-building and DNA extractions from local water, with University of Alberta professor Dr. Patrick Hanington. The Summit also included various off-site experiences, including guided tours of hydroelectric dams and snow sampling.
The Summit aimed to expand the knowledge of the participants about energy and water in Alberta. Teachers from O’Chiese First Nation School praised the Summit, with Karyn Booy stating in a recent letter to Inside Education that the Summit gave the students the opportunity to get out of their comfort zones, try new things, and be courageous. The Summit challenged each school to develop and implement an education and action project to engage their peers and community about the energy, climate, and water topics they learned about throughout the Summit.
Inside Education, Alberta’s largest environmental and natural resource education charity, is committed to inspiring students and providing support for K-12 school teachers through various avenues, including in-class learning resources, interactive presentations, experiential field trips, securing grant money where needed, and much more. The Summit provided an opportunity for students to leave informed, inspired, and empowered to work towards a sustainable future for the environment, economy, and society.
Ashley, a student from Mistassiniy School in Wabasca, expressed gratitude for the Summit, stating that it would be one of her favourite memories and that all the things she learned would forever stick with her. The Summit provided an excellent platform for students to engage with experts, learn about energy and water, and develop education and action projects to make a difference in their communities.