Dec '08/Jan '09

Mattering more than ever

PDAC Mining Matters program expanding

By L. Hymers

Two happy partcipants at a 2008 PDAC student activity

The importance of educating Canadian youth about the mining industry has become a widely recognized imperative. PDAC Mining Matters — a non-profit charitable organization that serves as the official educational arm of the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada — continues to make significant contributions to this effort. Through the development of curriculum kits, teacher workshops and various educational initiatives, Mining Matters helps give educators the tools required to enlighten tomorrow’s workforce about the mining and minerals industry.

The past year has been one of expansion for Mining Matters. Most notable has been its involvement in the Mining Industry Human Resources Council’s (MiHR) Mining Industry Attraction, Recruitment and Retention Strategy (MARS), a three-year project initiated in 2007 aimed at addressing the people and skills shortages in the mining sector. Mining Matters helps cultivate interest in geosciences and mining careers through curriculum expansion and resource production. Other expansion activities that have taken place since 2007 have included: the correlation of Mining Matters’ senior resource, Discovering Diamonds, to meet curriculum expectations in many provinces across Canada; the updating of its grade four resource, Deeper and Deeper; and the delivery of Discovering Diamonds instructional development workshops across Canada, to an estimated 2,765 students.

Recent activities have also included the broader cultivation of partnerships and the expansion of Mining Matters resources across Canada. In British Columbia, a partnership was established with the Mineral Resources Education Program of British Columbia. A Train-the-Trainer model is preparing teachers to deliver in-service Discovering Diamonds workshops.

In-service workshops were given in Alberta at the Canadian Aboriginal Science and Technology Society Conference and at CIM’s Mining in Society show. They were also offered in Saskatchewan, where Mining Matters representatives met with the province’s science consultant to discuss the provincial curriculum review. The consultant was also provided with all three PDAC Mining Matters curriculum resources for future adaptation assessment. In Ontario, the junior unit, Deeper and Deeper, was updated to reflect provincial curriculum revisions.

In Manitoba, an intermediate resource was developed to address the specific needs of the province’s curriculum. John Murray of the Manitoba Department of Education, Citizenship and Youth, and Coleen McKellar, a secondary teacher from Brandon, were engaged to adapt the Mining Matters II – The Earth’s Crust resource to reflect the province’s geology, resource and extractive activities curriculum. Manitoba’s first PDAC Mining Matters teachers’ workshops were held in August at the province’s Education, Citizenship and Youth Summer Institute.

Mining Matters has also expanded its aboriginal programming. In addition to preparing resources for aboriginal communities in ewfoundland and Labrador, program representatives also met with the province’s Board of Education science specialist. This led to an invitation to participate in a future teachers’ professional development program.

Mining Matters participated in the 2008 First Nations Natural Resources Youth Employment Program, held in partnership with Outland Forestry and Confederation College. The seven-week live-in professional and personal development program is designed to facilitate future employment in the natural resource sector. Twenty-six youth, aged 15 to 19, travelled from 15 northern Ontario aboriginal communities to participate. Mining Matters provided five days of thematic educational programming that included geosciences, environmental science, careers education and mining, as well as a visit to North American Palladium’s Lac des Iles mine operation.

Future Mining Matters undertakings will include educational resource and workshop kit production, the dissemination of educational materials through Maclean’s magazine’s In-Class Program, continued expansion of provincial workshop delivery, increased student outreach and ongoing cultivation of education, industry and government partnerships. With this multi-focal approach, PDAC Mining Matters hopes to make great strides in its mandate of increasing student interest in geosciences and mining industry careers.

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