Students Looking Forward To Becoming Leaders through a Summer of Enrichment At SHAD

Students Looking Forward To Becoming Leaders through a Summer of Enrichment At SHAD

by pmnationtalk on June 25, 2018507 Views


Almost a thousand high school students are getting set for a unique summer experience spending their time in labs, university lectures and workshops with mentors to learn the latest around innovation and entrepreneurship at SHAD.

This July, SHAD, the award-winning Canadian enrichment and entrepreneurship program, is being hosted at a record 16 universities from coast to coast.

Curious, driven high school students looking to make a difference compete for coveted spots at SHAD, which aims to help them reach their true potential.

Grade 11 student Victoria McMahon, who is Dene and whose mother is originally from the Northwest Territories and now lives in Barrie, Ontario, can’t wait for the program to start.  McMahon will be attending SHAD’s McGill University campus in Montreal and thinks it will help her with her long-term goal to work in medicine and to help First Nations communities.

“Our past experiences haven’t been so good and I really want to see an improvement and equality between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.”

In May, McMahon participated in the one week Verna J. Kirkness Science and Engineering Program which aims to increase the number of First Nations, Métis and Inuit students graduating from science and engineering.

A new partnership between Verna J. Kirkness Education Foundation and SHAD will see an Indigenous student in the program receive a full scholarship to attend SHAD. Jurnee Bignell-Blair of Churchill Manitoba is the inaugural scholarship recipient and will be attending SHAD at Mount Allison University in New Brunswick.

The Verna J. Kirkness Education Foundation is one of a number of organizations SHAD is now working with to help raise awareness about the opportunities for top Indigenous youth to attend the program.

For the past two years, SHAD has also offered a full scholarship to a Grade 11 Indigenous student who is part of Minerva BC’s Learning to Lead Program. This year’s winner is Olivia Cahoose who lives in Bella Coola, British Columbia but is originally from Fish Trap Reserve in Nimpo Lake, British Columbia.

Victoria McMahon says it is important Indigenous students take what they learn at SHAD back to their communities where they can be leaders.

“If I were to speak to other Indigenous youth, my message would be: ‘try new things. Don’t be shy.’ I know I was shy and when I applied [to SHAD] I didn’t think I would get in. And when I got in, I was really excited.”

Jordan Takkiruq who is from Gjoa Haven, Nunavut, above the Arctic Circle, will be participating at SHAD’s Mount Allison University campus and is looking forward to sharing his Inuit culture with students there.

“I am most excited to meet all the different people and hear their back story and where they came from and learn about the different cultures from across Canada.”

Takkiruq heard about SHAD last year when he took part in the Canada-Wide Science Fair.

“I went up to the SHAD booth they just sold it to me.  I loved it.  It just suits me so much,” Takkiruq says.

Takkiruq loves science and is excited about SHAD’s focus on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math).

He says he finds it exciting that SHAD brings top students from different cultural backgrounds together and has them try to see how they might be able to solve some complex world problems.

“[This will help] improve education systems, improve science and technology advancements in Canada because you have all the different mindsets of all the populations of Canada working towards the same cause and trying to solve global crises.”

Takkiruq’s long-term goal is to help make a difference in the fight to stop climate change, something he says he sees the impact of every day in Nunavut.

As for Victoria McMahon, she is hoping to develop her leadership skills even further at SHAD.

McMahon has been a member of the Ontario Ministry of Education Minister’s Student Advisory Council.  She tries to raise awareness for Indigenous issues including her attempts to get Indigenous English taught at more schools.  That’s an English course based on Indigenous culture and Indigenous books.

She says she saw how important it was last year when she was supposed to spend a week learning about residential schools in her grade 10 history course.  But the class only spent a day on the topic.

SHAD will run from July 1 to July 27.  You can sign up to receive information about applications for summer 2019 at  Please go to for more information.

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SHAD produces leaders for Canada through its award-winning, life-changing, pan-Canadian enrichment platform for high school students. Every year, SHAD helps almost 1000 young Canadians tap into their full potential through an innovative month-long program at one of 16 partner university campuses. There, students apply STEAM (science-tech-engineering-arts-math) disciplines to real-life public policy and entrepreneurial challenges, forging insights and valuable relationships for life. Among its thriving global network of close to 17,000 SHAD Fellows and innovators are 32 Rhodes Scholars, 88 Loran Scholars, and 55 Schulich Leaders.  For more information, visit

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