TRent Aboriginal Cultural Knowledge and Science Initiative
TRACKS (TRent Aboriginal Cultural Knowledge and Science) is a youth education program which was born out of the same vision as the Indigenous Environmental Studies and Sciences Program (IESS), to provide rich educational experiences which incorporate both Indigenous and western sciences.
We believe that by looking through different lenses, we can support youth to see the world from a broader perspective and pack more tools into their problem-solving backpacks. We also believe that concepts we’re exploring at a university level might be better understood by younger people who haven’t yet had the time to get so stuck on one way of knowing. So far, this approach seems to be reaping great benefits!
TRACKS began as a program in 2010 and is supported by the IESS program and First People's House of Learning of Trent University. TRACKS operates under the umbrella of the Kawartha World Issues Centre.
Our current Advisory Committee, who provide direction and experience for the TRACKS program, include Dr. Dan Longboat/Roronhiakewen – Founding Director of the Indigenous Environmental Studies and Sciences Program, Dr. Chris Furgal – Professor in the Environmental Studies and Sciences Program, Julie Cosgrove – Executive Director of Kawartha World Issues Centre and Betty Carr-Braint – Cultural Advisor/Indigenous Counselor at First Peoples House of Learning.
TRACKS consists of two distinct but connected programs: Outreach & Education and Oshkwazin Indigenous Youth Leadership Program.
TRACKS Outreach & Education runs a wide variety of educational programs throughout the calendar year. Outreach activities, after school programming, in-school workshops, PA-day camps, and summer camps make up our school-year programming schedule. TRACKS also develops curriculum to share with other organizations, offering take-home resources and training opportunities for teachers and educators. Throughout the summer, TRACKS continues its outreach activities and workshops, while also providing week-long summer day camps. All of our programming is fun, hands-on, experiential, and combines Indigenous and Western scientific principles.
Through our Outreach & Education programming, TRACKS aims to:
Create an awareness that Indigenous ecological knowledge is essential to comprehensive scientific approaches to environmental issues
Provide youth with culturally rich, science-based outdoor education
Help students understand the interconnectedness of all living things
Introduce youth to diverse knowledge systems and fields of study
Connect youth with strong, motivated and dynamic mentors
Encourage youth to think about math and science skills as valuable skills in achieving their future goals
TRACKS Oshkwazin is a leadership program for Indigenous high school aged youth. Inspired by the mandate of IESS program, TRACKS Oshkwazin aims to empower Indigenous youth to utilize their traditional ecological knowledge to pursue further education and careers in E-STEM fields. Oshkwazin runs a series of youth groups by collaborating with community partners throughout the school year. Our youth group programming takes place during lunch hours, after-school and on PA Days. Oshkwazin continues with outreach year-round to promote youth leadership by attending events in both communities and urban spaces. "Oshkwazin" is an Anishinaabemowin word that means “to light your internal fire”.
Through our Oshkwazin programming, TRACKS aims to:
Encourage youth to connect with their communities
Create a space that youth can receive traditional teachings and learn about Indigenous issues
Connect youth to community based role models
Create safer spaces for youth to meet and discuss issues that matter to them
Provide team building opportunities
Gain volunteer and work experience
In both of our programs, TRACKS youth get to experience a broad range of activities related to science and Indigenous knowledge systems, largely Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee. We do our best not to compartmentalize these ways of knowing but rather to integrate multiple perspectives as they explore a topic, and encourage youth to make connections between the different activities we do. Sometimes we’ll be joined by an Elder or scientist who can learn alongside us and share some of their knowledge as well.
We are always looking for more people to get involved and would love to have you on board. If you are a scientist, a traditional knowledge holder, or want to share any other skills you have with a great bunch of kids, get in touch!
Also, follow us on social media! Here you can get an idea of the programming we run and how you can fit into it.
TRACKS Outreach & Education: https://www.facebook.com/tracksyouthprogram/
TRACKS Oshkwazin: https://www.facebook.com/oshkwazinyouthleadership/
TRACKS Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tracksprogram/