Network for Indigenous Youth Academic Knowledge


"for the future"

Together in a Good Way

NIYAK is many things. It is a collaboration between the University of Calgary and the Sucker Creek First Nation (SCFN) community. It is a 3-year water quality study of the Lesser Slave Lake (LSL) led jointly by researchers at the U.Calgary and elders of the SCFN. NIYAK is a communication platform, connecting SCFN high school students to graduate and undergraduate students from universities across Canada through our sister program, REDEVELOP. This academic network of students-helping-students is a safe communication platform to learn about post-secondary programs in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). SCFN students can receive one-on-one help with admission requirements, scholarships and cultural support in an academic environment. Undergraduate summer interns help researchers and elders combine scientific method with Indigenous ways of knowing in our approach to hydrology and problem-solving together in a good way.

Applying Academic Knowledge

Water Quality

Water supports all life. It’s significance, both spiritually and scientifically, is recognized by all involved in this project. Our goal is to characterize the LSL through analysis of water samples collected by NIYAK and REDEVELOP students and interpretation of findings. Elders and researchers determine the location, depth and frequency of samples collected based on environmental observations.

Community & Research

Elders and researchers discuss differences and similarities in their approach to a study that is meaningful to everyone. SCFN students experience the application of knowledge from STEM disciplines combined with Indigenous ways of knowing. Students learn to mentor and be mentored in working across disciplines, distance and cultures. Research findings are then shared with the community.

Opening Doors

NIYAK opens doors to knowledge sharing. Graduate students who mentor NIYAK high school and undergrad students are from around the world. They provide scientific and academic guidance and share stories from their own journeys. In return, they gain understanding of Indigenous ways from the SCFN community. It is through sharing and listening that we move forward together in a good way.

Our Funding

NIYAK funding comes from three sources. The SCFN community hosts the research site and provides scholarship funding to local youth towards post-secondary education and high school upgrading. The University of Calgary provides program administration and funds research and internships. The Natural Sciences and Research Council of Canada (NSERC) provides funding for outreach activities under the PromoScience initiative.