The 2024 AISES in Canada National Gathering, which brings together Indigenous STEM students and professionals, took place in Vancouver from February 29 to March 2. Blusson QMI Postdoctoral Fellow Kyle Monkman was a speaker at the event.

The event is focused on building Indigenous Canadian leadership in STEM and expanding equitable and representative opportunities in all STEM fields. Themed Celebrating Indigenous Futures: Preserving Traditions, Embracing Change, this year’s gathering offered a dynamic program of activities including scientific talks, career development sessions, networking mixers, poster sessions, and more.

Image: Kyle Monkman, Postdoctoral Fellow, Blusson QMI.

In his talk, Kyle delved into how small grassroots initiatives, such as a reading group, can provide an opportunity for meaningful discussion on decolonization and Indigenization in STEM.

He spoke about his experience running voluntary reading groups in university science departments and the incredible development opportunities they deliver for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous participants.

“A reading group is smaller scale than many of the other initiatives. It can be done in a department or other workplaces. Indigenous students and allies can run the group without necessarily being experts in all the different topics,” Kyle said. “The idea is to read and try to understand the topics together.”

“It means a lot to me and other Indigenous students to see non-Indigenous people humbly engage with our histories and the issues facing our communities today.”

Kyle is a member of the Métis Nation in Manitoba. He has both Métis and Ukrainian ancestry. In 2012, he joined the Engineering Access Program (ENGAP) for Indigenous students in engineering at the University of Manitoba. There, he was introduced to physics in an upgrading course for Indigenous students. Years later, he came full circle when he was asked to come back to the program to teach the same upgrading physics course he once took as a student.

Now a Postdoctoral Fellow at Blusson QMI, Kyle is collaborating with Associate Scientist James Day to start a reading group. The reading group will aim to bring together the Blusson QMI community to learn about various topics, such as local history and Indigenous issues, as well as issues facing other groups, such as newcomers to Canada.