SFU’s popular Academic Summer Camp for Aboriginal Students a hit
By Diane Mar-Nicolle
When Alpha Secondary student Bethani L'Heureux first attended the SFU Academic Summer Camp for Aboriginal Students three years ago, she didn’t imagine she would enjoy it enough to return again and again. This year, she returns as a volunteer.
“Since I'm in Grade 12 I can no longer participate in the camp itself, but when I was told I could volunteer, I jumped at the chance,” says L’Heureux . “Each year, everyone feels like a big family—it's really nice.”
During the month of July, the SFU Academic Summer Camp for Aboriginal Students will host 26 Aboriginal students from Grades 9-11. They hail from 17 B.C. First Nations around Metro Vancouver, and as far away as Kamloops and Bella Bella.
Students start the day with breakfast, followed by classes in math, science and English. Afternoon activities feature sports and recreation, field trips or cultural and social activities.
“Our main objective is to help Aboriginal students feel empowered and to realize that the University is a place for them,” explains Veselin Jungic, the camp’s director and a professor and associate chair in math at SFU.
He adds, “Providing a more solid foundation in mathematics, science, and English Increases Aboriginal student participation, retention and high school graduation rates, and prepares them for admission and success in post-secondary institutions.”
While L’Heureux confesses that she’s not a big fan of math, she admits she can do it well, and had fun with it last year.
“The teachers give you different ways to look at things, and give tips on how to do the subjects in a way that may be easier for the individual,” she says. “A lot of Aboriginal points of view are embraced as well, and the activities help you think about those elements of culture.”
L’Heureux, a member of the Métis Nation, has just graduated from Alpha Secondary in Burnaby, and has won a scholarship to attend a post-secondary program that will train her for her dream job of becoming a voice actress.
Her first professional foray into the field was illustrating and narrating Jungic’s latest episode of the animated video series, “Small Number.”
Jungic co-created the “Small Number” videos to introduce mathematical objects, concepts, terminology and even suspense to help students understand how math is used on a daily and varied basis.
The camp is organized and supported by the Pacific Institute for Mathematical Sciences, the Faculty of Science, the Office for Aboriginal Peoples, the Indigenous Student Centre, the SFU Teaching and Learning Centre, the Department of Mathematics, and the IRMACS Centre. The NSERC PromoScience Program is also a contributor.