Indigenous astronaut shares space with students at CMHR

Schools in 15 remote and northern communities joined a virtual session with the first indigenous astronaut.

Winnipeg, Manitoba — Last Thursday, 150 Grade 8 to 10 students from Winnipeg and the Wuskwi Sipihk First Nation, travelling from their community near Swan River, Manitoba and more, were given the opportunity to learn from and listen to the world’s first indigenous NASA astronaut at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR).

During his trip to space as the first and currently the only indigenous astronaut, John Herrington, now 60, of the Chickasaw Nation took along a handmade Indigenous flute, an eagle feather and other treasured items significant to his heritage into space in 2002.

As a mission specialist with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, he spent 13 days, 18 hours, 47 minutes on the International Space Station during his assignment and the items he took with him during his trip out of Earth’s orbit now reside at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C..

He connected via two-way video technology with young people in 15 remote and northern communities across Canada from Nunavut to the Yukon, the largest virtual session ever held by Connected North which is an initiative designed to foster student engagement and enhanced education outcomes in remote Indigenous communities.

Connected North itself, is a leading-edge program managed by TakingITGlobal that delivers immersive and interactive education services through Cisco’s high-definition, two-way TelePresence video technology. The program is made possible through a strong ecosystem of supporters. It aims to increase youth empowerment in school and life by providing students and their teachers with access to engaging, innovative content.

The participating schools included: Qitiqliq Middle School (Arviat, Nunavut), Mine Centre Public School (Ontario), Bernard Constant Community School (James Smith Cree Nation, Saskatchewan), Fort Frances High School (Ontario), Simon Alaittuq (Rankin Inlet, Nunavut), Cadotte Lake School (Woodland Cree First Nation, Alberta), Killinik High School (Cambridge Bay, Nunavut), Jonah Amitnaq Secondary School (Baker Lake, Nunavut), Deh Gáh School (Fort Providence, Northwest Territories), Keewaywin School (Keewaywin First Nation, Ontario), Victoria Linklater Memorial School (North Spirit Lake First Nation, Ontario), Ghùch Tlâ Community School (Carcross, Yukon), Francine J Wesley Secondary School (Kashechewan First Nation, Ontario), Deer Lake School (Deer Lake First Nation, Ontario), and Sioux North High School (Sioux Lookout, Ontario)

The teams of students also participated in an Instagram challenge to post content promoting human rights messages and the program showed how social media can build empathy, spark change and create active global citizens.

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