Elephant Thoughts Wins NSERC Award for Science Promotion for empowering Indigenous children through science outreach

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Elephant Thoughts Wins NSERC Award for Science Promotion for empowering Indigenous children through science outreach

by pnationtalk on May 12, 20161418 Views

May 12, 2016 – Ottawa, Ontario

The Government of Canada respects the role of science in society and is committed to engaging all citizens with the wonders of science and technology by supporting groups that promote research in new and novel ways. Elephant Thoughts Educational Outreach, Canada’s largest science outreach program, focuses on First Nations and Inuit peoples by offering science education activities that touch as many as 100 communities per year. For these communities, Elephant Thoughts provides a source of educational programs for young students and acts as a force for self-sustaining change.

Today, Elephant Thoughts was presented with the annual award for Science Promotion (Group) by Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science. The award, provided through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), is valued at $25,000 and honours organizations that make outstanding contributions to the promotion of science and engineering to the general public.

Jeremy Rhodes, Executive Director of Elephant Thoughts, accepted the award at a ceremony on Parliament Hill, as part of the Science Odyssey Appreciation exhibition attended by students, researchers, and science promoters. Science Odyssey, from May 6 to 15, is 10 days of discovery and innovation that brings together hundreds of events where Canadians can experience the country’s richness in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.


“Strong communities are fundamental to the success of Indigenous peoples. Elephant Thoughts’ science outreach, in partnership with First Nations and Inuit peoples, is exactly what this government seeks as we engage Indigenous partners to break down the barriers that have for too long held back individuals and communities from reaching their full potential in science and society.”
– The Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science

“By bringing together traditional knowledge and Western science, this organization is creating opportunities for young learners to expand their perspectives, pursue their studies, and realize their future ambitions.”
– Dr. B. Mario Pinto, President, NSERC

“This award will allow us to find additional support and form new partnerships so we can bring our programs to many thousands more children. NSERC has been a strong partner for Elephant Thoughts over the past 10 years, enabling us to expand and evolve our programs and methods. They are a big part of our success story and we sincerely thank them for all they do to support science education.”
– Jeremy Rhodes, Executive Director, Elephant Thoughts Educational Outreach

“Elephant Thoughts won our appreciation by their tireless efforts in the community, braving severe weather and even forest fires to provide hands-on science activities and programming to children at the nine schools of the Cree School Board. Their tutoring program also made a real difference in student confidence and graduation rates for science and math as well other courses. Additionally, they involved the community, and their evening and weekend science workshops were enthusiastically attended by the students and their families.”
– Olivia Spencer, cooperative education resource teacher (retired), James Bay Eeyou School, Chisasibi, Quebec

Quick Facts

  • With its unique use of science as a tool to foster success in First Nations and Inuit schools, Elephant Thoughts promotes involvement by the entire community in its programs, not only to help students, but also to build bridges between communities and educators.
  • The student-centred programming developed by Elephant Thoughts engages students so they can see the value of education through real life applications of science and math that are meaningful in their local environments.
  • The emphasis on curriculum-oriented learning has led to high graduation rates among students, sometimes by a factor of nearly 10.
  • Elephant Thoughts also responds to major humanitarian issues internationally, including rebuilding efforts after natural disasters and sponsoring children and refugee families. Since its foundation in 2002, the group has positively affected the lives of more than 20,000 children at hundreds of schools worldwide.

Associated Links

About the Award
About Elephant Thoughts
Where NSERC Invests and Why
A Vision of NSERC in 2020


NSERC invests over $1 billion each year in natural sciences and engineering research in Canada. Our investments deliver discoveries – valuable world-firsts in knowledge claimed by a brain trust of over 11,000 professors. Our investments enable partnerships and collaborations that connect industry with discoveries and the people behind them. Researcher-industry partnerships established by NSERC help inform R&D, solve scale-up challenges, and reduce the risks of developing high-potential technology.

NSERC also provides scholarships and hands-on training experience for more than 30,000 post-secondary students and post-doctoral fellows. These young researchers will be the next generation of science and engineering leaders in Canada.


Véronique Perron
Press Secretary, Minister of Science
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada
Tel.: 343-291-2858
Email: [email protected]

Martin Leroux
Media and Public Affairs Officer
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada
Tel.: 613-943-7618
Email: [email protected]


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