Canadian Indigenous youth robotics team to compete in Dubai

Several Alberta students are preparing for an opportunity for a lifetime — this October, the IndigeSTEAM team will head to Dubai to compete on behalf of Canada in an international robotics competition.

The FIRST Global event swill be a chance for the team to show off their skills on a world stage, and the team is hoping to show off their culture as well.

“The reason we have these colours on our team shirts is to represent the medicine wheel colours and the red on the shirt is to honour Indigenous women that were killed or are missing,” said Quentin Norris, a twelve-year-old Cree-Metis team member.

Norris was introduced to robotics at IndigeSTEAM youth camp two years ago.

“It’s basically taking Indigenous kids from all across Alberta and bringing them all together for a week to teach them new stuff about science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics,” Norris said.

Since the summer, the team has worked on their robot at the downtown office space of Baker Hughes Canada. The Calgary-based company is also providing the team with mentorship and some financial backing. However, the team is still short of its fundraising goal which means, as of now, only four of the ten members will be able to travel.

“I know we’re about $6,000 short of the entire team going,” said Sheila Norris, a parent and team volunteer.

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity they may never get again.”

Her son Tristan is one of the lucky four that will be heading to Dubai. He says he’s excited to meet other kids from around the world and hopes to inspire others indigenous kids to go after their dreams even if obstacles stand in their way.

“I’m on the autism spectrum and I do robotics to clear out my issues and anxiety and problems in the world,” the 16-year-old said. ” I want all the kids to know they can do anything.”

Unless more money can be raised, Quentin, Tristan’s brother, knows he won’t be traveling this year. But competition or not, the 12-year-old says he now has bigger dreams — turning his newfound passion into a life long career.

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