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The Youth BIOlab at the St. Boniface Hospital Albrechtsen Research Centre is thrilled to announce its success in the 2023 NSERC PromoScience grant competition. This award will provide $283,500 over three years to support the lab’s operating costs and enhance its outreach efforts to Indigenous youth in northern, rural, and remote schools in partnership with the Frontier School Division.

Today, Yasir Naqvi, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health, and Ryan Turnbull, Parliamentary Secretary to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Innovation, Science, and Industry, on behalf of the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science, and Industry, announced funding for 44 science promotion and outreach programs, including the Youth BIOlab. The announcement took place at the University of Ottawa, highlighting over $10 million in investments through NSERC’s PromoScience program aimed at engaging and inspiring young Canadians in STEM.

The Youth BIOlab, established in 2013 with an initial investment of $450,000 from Manitoba Education, has engaged over 40,000 students through hands-on biomedical science learning experiences. These programs are designed to align with Manitoba curriculum outcomes, ensuring educational relevance and impact. The lab’s success is underpinned by partnerships with local school divisions and sustained funding from diverse sources, including yearly contributions from partner school divisions, federal grants, and donations.

With the new funding from NSERC, the Youth BIOlab will focus on its project, “Learning Together: Life Science for Youth and Teachers in Manitoba’s North.” This initiative will provide enhanced STEM education opportunities to underserved Indigenous youth, fostering a deeper understanding of science and health.

“We are incredibly honored to receive this funding from NSERC’s PromoScience program,” said Stephen Jones, Director of Youth BIOlab. “This grant will enable us to expand our outreach to northern and remote communities, providing vital STEM education to Indigenous youth. We are committed to inspiring the next generation of curious minds and helping them understand the science behind health.  NSERC has generously supported our work for more than a decade and this renewed funding will significantly enhance our efforts.”

This funding will support a variety of programs including visits to the Youth BIOlab, classroom workshops, and online learning programs, ensuring that youth in remote communities have the same access to innovative STEM education as their urban counterparts. Engaging youth in STEM is crucial for developing the problem-solving and critical thinking skills necessary for success in the 21st century.

The Youth BIOlab represents a joint commitment by the province and St. Boniface Hospital to the future of young people in Manitoba. By fostering interest in science and supporting participation in healthcare and research sectors, the BIOlab helps students gain a fundamental understanding of the science behind their own health.