media release

Priming Aboriginal high school students for university

October 28, 2014

Veselin Jungic, 778.782.3340,
William Lindsay, 778.782.8925,
Carol Thorbes, University Communications, 778.782.3035,


Simon Fraser University’s annual Aboriginal Students in Math and Science Workshop will draw 85 Grade 11 and 12 Aboriginal students from First Nations communities and schools throughout the Lower Mainland and Cranbrook on Wednesday.

Veselin Jungic, an associate chair and adjunct professor in SFU’s math department, says the post-secondary education primer for high school students nearing graduation is filled to capacity this year.

“We invite Grade 11 and 12 students to our fall workshop because in those grades they’re making decisions about their post-secondary options,” says Jungic. “We see this event as an opportunity to promote careers in mathematics, science and engineering specifically to Aboriginal students. At a similar workshop this summer, many students had their interest piqued in enrolling in the SFU Pre-Health Bridging Program.”

SFU’s math departmentFaculty of ScienceIRMACS CentreOffice for Aboriginal Peoples (OAP) and the Pacific Institute for the Mathematical Sciences host these workshops. Through lectures and fun presentations delivered by senior scientists and instructors, they try to instill the belief that math, science and applied sciences are achievable for all Aboriginal students.

“Due to a complex interaction of historical, political, social, cultural and economical challenges, few Aboriginal high school students in B.C., compared to their non-Aboriginal counterparts, pass the mathematics 12 exam,” says William Lindsay. The Cree-Stoney Nations member and OAP director will open this year’s workshop with a welcome address.

“Without an appropriate level of numeracy, a wide array of jobs, from trades to engineering and from customer service to business management, will remain out of Aboriginal youths’ reach.”

This fall’s workshop, Oct. 29, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., rm 10900, at the IRMACS Centre, will feature math professor Peter Liljedahl presenting Studenting, Learning or Thinking: Three Sides of the Same Coin.

Sophie Lavieri, a lecturer in chemistry, will incorporate fun into demonstrations that teach students the chemistry behind ice-cream making.

Math professor John Stockie will discuss math within the context of the Olympics and Richard Vaughan, a professor in computing science, will show off robots he has created.

Donalene Rapada, an accountant and Squamish Nation member with the Squamish Nation Service Delivery, will discuss her use of math in her everyday work.

The day will wrap up with a campus tour organized by the SFU Indigenous Student Centre.

What: 5th Annual Aboriginal Students in Math and Science Workshop
 Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
 The IRMACS Centre, Applied Sciences Building, rm 10900, Burnaby campus
 Media welcome to attend and take pictures

As Canada's engaged university, SFU is defined by its dynamic integration of innovative education, cutting-edge research and far-reaching community engagement.  SFU was founded almost 50 years ago with a mission to be a different kind of university—to bring an interdisciplinary approach to learning, embrace bold initiatives, and engage with communities near and far. Today, SFU is a leader amongst Canada's comprehensive research universities and is ranked one of the top universities in the world under 50 years of age. With campuses in British Columbia's three largest cities—Vancouver, Surrey and Burnaby—SFU has eight faculties, delivers almost 150 programs to over 30,000 students, and boasts more than 130,000 alumni in 130 countries around the world.


Simon Fraser University: Engaging Students. Engaging Research. Engaging Communities.

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