It’s been more than 150 years and until today, Indigenous people in Canada continue to endure hard conditions (higher rates of unemployment, poor education, bad housing, and poor job prospects). One of the key issues is the lower levels of education and the higher dropout rate in high school and university.
The 2019 ACIP pilot project was a great success. The Indigenous youth who participated were excited by the presentations and experiences prepared by the CFHT resident astronomer Dr. Rousseau-Nepton (the first indigenous woman in Quebec to obtain a PhD in astrophysics). The visit to the Popular Astronomy Festival of Mont-Megantic was like a dream for the youth. Presentations, animations and observation with small telescopes and through the eyepiece of the 1.6m Mont-Megantic telescope was fantastic. A few students clearly manifested their interest to become an astronomer or an astronaut (there were presentations on the Apollo missions).
Based on the success of our Pilot Project in 2019, we propose to follow the same society-society approach to improve the situation of Indigenous people in Canada by using Astronomy as a tool for the development of Indigenous youth. This novel non-governmental approach could have an impact in reducing inequality in the society.
For this Project, we will target three Indian reserves in the Province of Quebec near the city of Montreal. This geography leverages proximity to the Mont-Megantic Observatory, one of the premier research telescopes in Canada. Our participants will be young students (8-14 years old). Our project has three components: (i) visiting schools in the Indian reserves to reach young Indigenous students; (ii) visiting the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium in Montreal; and (iii) bringing a group of students to visit the Observatory of Mont-Megantic during the Popular Astronomy Festival of Mont-Megantic. We will use Astronomy as a social development tool to help improve the situation of Indigenous people in Indian reserves”