A second-grader is inspired after attending a school day demonstration from an astronaut who just came back from space. A six-year-old is fascinated with the migration of monarch butterflies, and wants to know more. A high school student has just learned to code, and looks into college programs that will align with her newfound passion.
This next generation will go on to make incredible and essential breakthroughs in technology, medicine, engineering, mathematics, and more. Their innovations will change the course of history, making our lives better by discovering the next big things, the improved medicines, the automatic machines, and the solutions to challenges we face. These modern creations will help to make our economies richer and more prosperous.
Innovation itself is a main driver of sustained economic growth. It leads to new markets, new possibilities, new technologies, and new health practices. But innovation does not occur in a vacuum, it emerges from a base of knowledge and ideas. This ground-level understanding of how things work comes from science and the people who do it.
This is why we are celebrating Science Odyssey 2017, a ten-day celebration of science in Canada. It was created to engage Canadians, notably young people, and to foster what I like to call a "culture of curiosity" across the country.
As Science Minister, I cannot stress how important it is to encourage this thirst for knowledge in Canada's young population. All young Canadians should be able to see themselves taking part in the wonderful world of science. We need to create and maintain this culture of curiosity so that our population can be inspired to ask bold questions, and seek new knowledge.
In addition to Science Odyssey 2017, we have launched a social media campaign to raise awareness about all the ways youth can engage in science to make Canada more prosperous. We want young boys, young girls, Indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities, and all Canadians to #ChooseScience by discovering all the ways research improves our daily lives.
Throughout my own academic career, I have always advocated for diversity in science, and have tried to foster young people's interests as early on as possible. I firmly believe that the key to early engagement is being able to speak the audience's language. That's why our government is investing to teach students from kindergarten to Grade 12 to code. In the world of tomorrow, this skill will be as essential as reading and writing.
We have also provided close to $11 million for the PromoScience program which encourages young Canadians interested in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) to excel in their field. This funding is intended to support increasing the diversity of youth engaged in STEM. We are also supporting up to 10,000 new international work-integrated learning and co-op opportunities per year.
We want to see more young Canadians getting the well-rounded education they need to start a good job after they graduate. Through initiatives like these and more, the Government of Canada is investing to create a scientifically-engaged workforce that will place Canada front and centre on the international stage.
I encourage all Canadians to participate in the fun science-based activities and events planned for Science Odyssey 2017. I hope the next ten days will be packed full of wide eyes and stimulating moments. Together, we are inspiring Canada's next generation of leaders. It is our responsibility to encourage them to dream their greatest dream, to take every opportunity they are offered, and to remind them that "impossible" is just a dare to make it happen.
The Honourable Kirsty Duncan PC, MP
Minister of Science
Science Odyssey takes place from May 12-21, 2017. For more information, go to www.science.gc.ca
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