A woman from the Muscowpetung Saulteaux Nation is hoping to inspire Indigenous students into careers in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields through her business.
Dawn Pratt, the founder of Askenootow STEM Enterprises, started the company last year with the goal of having more Indigenous people in STEM fields.
“I know it’s still needed, and I think it’s really important to be visible,” she said. “It’s important for people to see that we have Indigenous STEM professionals. We have doctors, but we need more doctors and we have engineers, but we need more engineers.”
She said she named the business ‘Askenootow’ in honour of her relative, Charles Cowley Pratt whose Cree name was Askenootow, and who worked as an interpreter during Treaty 4 negotiations.
“It was a way to honour our ancestors, and a way to bring awareness to and educate people about our ancestors. And to bring them back to life in a different way,” Pratt said.
Through her business, Pratt works as a STEM consultant which allows her to help develop and give ideas on Indigenized STEM outreach projects and exhibits.
She also examines lesson plans and gives ideas on how to incorporate Indigenous knowledge.
Pratt plans on holding workshops that incorporate Indigenous knowledge into these subject areas once the COVID-19 pandemic is over.
Some of the workshops that will be available will include diagrams made from Play-Doh, such as one of Indigenized cells.
She said she hopes these workshops will help get more Indigenous people into STEM careers.
“I really hope to help fill that gap somehow with inspiring youth to take STEM (courses).”
Pratt said she consulted with elders and knowledge-keepers to create her workshops and lesson plans.
(PHOTO: Dawn Pratt holds a master of science degree from the University of Saskatchewan. Photo submitted by Dawn Pratt.)