Welcome to Indigenous Futures in Engineering, Queen's University

Indspire Soaring in Vancouver

Hey, it's Joe, the AAE outreach coordinator.

I traveled to Vancouver in mid-May to set up a booth at the Indspire Soaring youth career conference. It was my second Soaring event, after a similar one in Winnipeg back in March. There's nothing so welcoming to an Indigenous traveler as the sight of art like this from virtually the moment the plane lands. This is right at the Vancouver airport.

vancouver airport

That is, after I bumped into a reality TV star on the plane. Did you watch Big Brother Canada this year? I was sitting in the Toronto airport with everyone else waiting to get on the plane when a girl with all this TV make-up walks up at the last minute, breathlessly moving among us with all her luggage. I was like, "That could very well be Sara from Big Brother Canada." The season just ended like a week ago. So we all get on board and who's sitting in the seat right next to me?!

big brother sara

That was just the begiining. Due to a miscommunication regarding delivery times for our UPS packages -- which included pretty much everything I needed for the event -- I was on the phone with UPS customer service at 4:30am PST in order to coordinate an "emergency" delivery later that morning. It all arrived at the convention centre and was set up with literally 15 minutes to spare before the first of four throngs of British Columbia Indigenous teenagers came in. It was probably 9:15am and I'd already experienced an entire day's worth of stress. But we made it happen!

booth at vancouver final

One of the great parts of my job is meeting young people and listening to the differences among their intended career paths. There are just as many who, when you ask "What are ya' interested in?," will say "I dunno" as there are those who'll look you right in the eye and say, "I'm gonna be a mechanic."  There were a lot of mechanics-to-be in Vancouver, both male and female.  And I've not been to one career fair where at least a couple teens will say, "I have an uncle that's an engineer."

It was right after that first session that Roberta Jamieson herself came up to our booth. "Queen's University," she said, declaratively. She knew all about Aboriginal Access, even named some of our Aboriginal Engineer supporters in the field, which was cool. Needless to say, I roped her in for a photo -- in front of our display, no less. That's Sonia Prevost-Derbecker, the new VP-Education, standing with us.

roberta jamieson final

All in all it was a great day speaking to teens, their teachers and guidance counselors, chatting them up about engineering as a career choice and Queen's in particular -- putting a bug in their ear, as I like to say. Those Indspire Soaring events can be a whirlwind but they're always great fun too.

Queen's University
Kingston, Ontario, K7L 3N6, Canada

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