Science Week Introduces Indigenous Youth to Careers in Natural Resources

Photo of Jason Freeburn.Jason Freeburn, a technologist with Lakehead University's Geography department, demonstrated how to use a GPS device in a geocaching exercise with Indigenous youth from Mink Lake and Sandbar summer camps.

THUNDER BAY, ON, August 1, 2018 – Forty-five Indigenous youth from 25 communities are in Thunder Bay this week learning about geocaching, cartography, sustainable energy, entrepreneurship and more as part of Science Week for the the First Nation Natural Resource Youth Employment Program (FNNRYEP) and the Outland Youth Employment Program (OYEP).

The youth and their counsellors are part of sister programs at Sandbar and Mink Lake summer camps, a collaborative project between industry, the province, and Confederation College and Lakehead University.

Since 2000, Outland Camps has partnered with Confederation College and Lakehead University to offer land-based education training and employment programs for Indigenous youth in Ontario. To date, the partnership has resulted in over 430 participants from 55 communities completing the programs.

“These programs offer an important pathway for Indigenous youth to pursue postsecondary education and potentially to inspire a rewarding career,” said Bill Gregorash, Program Manager and Professor in the Workforce Development division at Confederation College. “Through meaningful employment, participants improve skills and develop a strong work ethic, learning how to be self-sufficient. They also have the opportunity to explore many facets of the natural resources sector and earn industry certifications that may assist them in their future careers. We are proud to be an ongoing partner.”

Sarah Ambroziak, Program Coordinator, Outland Camps, spoke to the partnerships with both institutions. “Through these programs, Confederation College and Lakehead University have demonstrated a clear commitment to supporting the growth and education of Indigenous youth in northwestern Ontario. The opportunities offered through these programs can be life-changing. We regularly witness participants achieving higher levels of self-confidence, becoming stronger leaders in their communities and developing positive and long-lasting relationships with their peers.”

The week has included field trips to local facilities and has welcomed guest speakers from Confederation College, Lakehead University and the natural resources industry. Participants have had multiple opportunities to gain hands-on experience in natural resource fields.   

"Lakehead University’s Aboriginal Mentorship Program and the Outland Youth Employment Program partnership offers a terrific opportunity for First Nation youth to participate in experiential learning, identify a variety of career options and experience the life of a postsecondary student, all while gaining traditional and contemporary knowledge and skills on the land,” said Denise Baxter, Vice-Provost Aboriginal Initiatives, Lakehead University.

The program will continue through mid-August, with closing ceremonies taking place at Confederation College on August 23.





Confederation College has been serving the citizens of northwestern Ontario since 1967 meeting the educational needs of students in a catchment area of some 550,000 square kilometres. Along with its main campus in Thunder Bay, Confederation College has eight regional sites located in Dryden, Fort Frances, Geraldton, Kenora, Marathon, Sioux Lookout, Red Lake and Wawa. 

Confederation College delivers exceptional education and training to an average of 6,500 combined full and part-time students per year and currently has a total of 850 full and part-time employees. Confederation’s regional economic impact and contribution is valued at $643.4 million annually.



Lakehead University has approximately 9,700 full-time equivalent students and 2,000 faculty and staff in 10 faculties at two campuses in Orillia and Thunder Bay, Ontario. Lakehead is a fully comprehensive university: home to Ontario’s newest Faculty of Law in 44 years, the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, and faculties of Engineering, Business Administration, Health & Behavioural Sciences, Social Sciences & Humanities, Science & Environmental Studies, Natural Resources Management, Education, and Graduate Studies. Maclean’s 2018 University Rankings place Lakehead University among Canada's Top 10 primarily undergraduate universities, as well as first in Total Research Dollars, second for Citations, and third for Scholarships and Bursaries. In 2017, Research Infosource named Lakehead Research University of the Year in its category for the third consecutive year. Visit


For more information, please contact:

Vince Ponka, Media and Communications Officer, Confederation College

Ph: (807) 475-6137, Cell: (807) 620-0043, Email:


Brandon Walker, Communications and Marketing Associate, Lakehead University

Ph: (807) 343-8372, Email: