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North Forge creates Indigenous Student Mentorship Program

PHOTO BY SYDNEY HILDEBRANDT

Community Journalist – The Times – Canstar

(From left) Students Garnet Chartrand and Emma Woodford; Matt Henderson, Seven Oaks School Division; and Marney Stapley, North Forge Technology Exchange.

North Forge has partnered with Seven Oaks School Division to host the Indigenous Student Mentorship Program. This program consists of students in grade 10, 11, 12, or slightly post-graduation, who have a business idea or who are interested in entrepreneurship as a career path. Students are mentored by Seven Oaks Indigenous leaders while being trained in entrepreneurial processes. 

Over the course of the summer, the eight students currently enrolled in the program will learn to surface problems in their community by introducing them to critical initiatives within the School Division, while at the same time teaching them how to surface problems in their community through the design process.

The program covers many topics in entrepreneurship such as: idea brainstorming, validating your ideas, marketing, finances, programs and resources available to entrepreneurs, and building your network, providing students with a holistic view of what starting up a business from scratch will look like. Students will be tasked with imagining innovative solutions to highly complex problems within the School Division and their communities to ensure that everyone has the means for a decent life. 

Participants in this program also receive hands-on training for the equipment at the North Forge Fabrication Lab, a facility where entrepreneurs can create product prototypes through use of 3D printers, laser cutters, and other machinery.

The group will use the skills they have learned through hands-on training to generate solutions for problems that they’ve noticed in their environments through business. They will also get the opportunity to speak with local entrepreneurs and fellow members of the Fabrication Lab about the life of an entrepreneur. 

Marney Stapley, Vice President of North Forge, explained “when the Seven Oaks Met School approached us to discuss creating this program that would teach students to think outside the box and solve complex community issues through entrepreneurship, we felt it was a very natural fit for North Forge to provide these students with some hands-on training.”

“It builds on, and leverages, what we’ve done with the MET schools over the last three years, coupled with the fact that students can take equipment training. This provides a well-rounded learning experience for students,” Marney said. 

The program is an extension of another program, MICE, the Met Innovation Centre for Entrepreneurship, which was also designed to teach students how to start up a business. Building on similar concepts, the Indigenous Youth Student Program also provides students with hands-on training at the North Forge Fabrication Lab. 

When asked about how these students will transfer what they’ve learned in the program to the real world, Marney replied that they are already out in the community searching for opportunities. 

“The students will actually be going out into the community in the next few weeks and identifying the problems they’re seeing, then they will brainstorm together to come up with potential solutions to these problems. It’s really a fantastic initiative that shows students what being an entrepreneur is all about – solving problems.”

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