Maskwacis Cultural College hosted a Science Day on Wednesday, July 16 to mark the efforts undertaken by the college staff, in particular librarian Manisha Khetarpal, to engage not only the students but also the larger community.
Invited by Khetarpal down from Edmonton was the Let’s Talk Science team, an outreach science organization affiliated with the University of Alberta, to engage the community in several topics.
“We grabbed activities that encompasses all the areas of science we cover,” said site lead Shakib Rahman.
Let’s Talk Science uses simple household items to further interest kids in learning. “The biggest thing is, if you make science approachable to the kids . . . you find a lot of them coming out,” said Rahman.
He says teaching children science isn’t about intimidating them with every detail but about fostering an interest and a passion. “It’s about self-discovery.”
He wants approachable science to break down barriers and attract students of all ages to learning.
In the spirit of furthering their education and knowledge, the students of the college are exposed to a sociology class taught by Yun-Csang Ghimn.
Ghimn joined the college almost six years ago and began teaching a course equal in value to those at the University of Alberta, making the course transferable and providing more post-secondary options to the students.
He also teaches sociology at the University of Alberta and feels the smaller classes are more beneficial in readying the First Nations students for other schools and experiences. “Academically, I would say they’re more than ready.”
The small size also allows for more emotional interactions between the students; heated arguments and debates are common, says Ghimn.
Ghimn focuses on social structure and inequality with a First Nations perspective.
“(It) seems like the last five years, my students have had some organic exposure to non-white ethnic people,” said Ghimn. “I believe it’s an important thing for native students to have.”
The open dialogue of the class deals with customs, traditions, and truths and myths behind stereotypes, both for First Nations people and the rest of the world. “That’s a quite unique Maskwacis sociology class,” said Ghimn.
“I believe the college has to work as a window for them to the outside world,” he added.
Unlike most academic courses, where one lesson segues into the next, Ghimn’s class jumps from one topic to another depending on what the students wish to discuss.
He finds some of the topics closest to students’ hearts include race ethnicity and the hierarchy of “white” people, which refers to immigrants and other styles of people in a traditional western secular society, such as Hutterites.
“Students tend to find a few or several topics they love to talk about and they’re on fire,” said Ghimn.
Maskwacis Cultural College, 40th anniversary
Maskwacis Cultural College is celebrating its 40th anniversary with a year of cultural ceremonies and celebrations.
The college was provincially sanctioned in 1988 and has graduated more than 2,000 students with degrees, diplomas and certificates. “We’re a provincial private institution,” said president Patricia Goodwill-Littlechild.
“We hire the finest faculty; highly qualified faculty and teach courses approved by the government of Alberta,” said Goodwill-Littlechild. Maskwacis Cultural College’s courses are transferable to many universities, including Edmonton, Calgary and Lethbridge.