The Verna J. Kirkness Science and Engineering Education Program to be offered at Kwantlen Polytechnic University

Wed, Feb 6, 2019

New educational opportunities are opening up for Indigenous high school students thanks to a partnership between the Verna J. Kirkness Education Foundation and Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU).

Starting at KPU in 2019, the Verna J. Kirkness Science and Engineering Education Program will support educational opportunities and activities outside of the classroom through research mentorship.

"Expanding the program to KPU will help the foundation to meet the goal of increasing the number of First Nation, Metis and Inuit students graduating in science, medicine, and engineering by offering a unique enrichment experience for FNMI students in the Lower Mainland," says Tony Williams, chair of the foundation’s board of directors. 

KPU’s Faculty of Science will host the program at the university’s Langley campus from April 29 through May 3, 2019.

"I was very impressed by the Langley campus. It is so warm and inviting, as are all the people we met," says Dr. Verna Kirkness, honorary chair of the foundation and a member of the Fisher River Cree Nation.

"I see this as the start of a great partnership," says Dr. Elizabeth Worobec, dean of the Faculty of Science at KPU. "We welcome the Kirkness program to KPU and have arranged very exciting research projects for the Kirkness students."

Among the activities planned for the students are:

  • university level experience in computer-aided design and drafting
  • participation in insect collection and curation activities
  • laboratory research on insects that prey on greenhouse and agricultural crops
  • assisting with re-indigenizing the Logan Creek floodplain with native plants
  • learning skills to be successful in turf management

"We are very pleased and honoured to be partnering with the Verna J. Kirkness Education Foundation," says Dr. Steve Cardwell, KPU’s associate vice president, academic. "This will be a wonderful opportunity for Indigenous youth. We look forward to building the program with the foundation."