Tomorrow is World Water Day, and RESEAU Centre for Mobilizing Innovation is marking the occasion by challenging Indigenous youth to solve drinking water problems in their community with the support of scientists and innovators.
The Indigenous Youth Potable Water Innovation Challenge 2022 is a pilot program and community leaders and operators to identify local water challenges, barriers to solving them and potential solutions. With innovative educational tools and mentorship from scientists, engineers and experts from the water industry and universities, the teams will develop a solution to solve the most pressing local challenge. Then, they’ll workshop their idea with entrepreneurs before presenting it to their community. Their work will be judged by their community as well as an Indigenous Advisory council, who are also overseeing the program development, for prizes and opportunities for accelerator support to develop promising ideas into actual products and services.
Up to eight teams can participate in the pilot project, and each participating community will receive $15,000 funding as well as $5,000 in administration support to help their team move forward.
“This is an exciting challenge designed to ignite a passion for science and innovation, business creation, community health and community service in our young people,” says Aaron Genereux, a member of the RESEAU Board of Directors. “Our ultimate goal s to inspire a pipeline of next-generation Indigenous innovators and entrepreneurs, and to engage and build resilience in youth as they create and share new knowledge and build an economy that drives innovation by and for Indigenous communities.”
One in six Canadians, including the majority of 1.6 million Indigenous people, live in rural areas and often face exposure to negative health and socio-economic impacts from unsafe drinking water. It’s a persistent crisis that has dragged on for decades, a dubious achievement for a rich nation often celebrated as a global humanitarian and human rights leader. After more than $5 billion invested in water infrastructure improvement and an $8 billion legal settlement, transformational change remains elusive. To make matters worse, thousands of smaller Indigenous communities and homes are excluded from these funding and legal commitments.
“Indigenous youth are one of Canada’s fastest growing demographics, and youth participation is crucial to the future well-being of Indigenous communities,” Mr. Genereux adds. “Our hope is to spark a life-long interest in innovating within our communities to improve health, the economy and quality of life for generations to come.”
Information on the youth challenge can be found here.