Canada’s plan introduced to the next generation through youth engagement

Photo shows a woman listening to a student speak; the student has his back to the camera.

Cherie Leslie, Senior Engagement Advisor at the NWMO, answers a question about a nuclear fuel bundle at the Living Library event at Ripley-Huron Community School.

With summer winding down, Cherie Leslie, Senior Engagement Advisor at the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO), is concluding a busy few months of activities engaging with area youth.


“One of the best parts of my job is meeting members of our community, including our dynamic youth, and sharing information about Canada’s plan for the safe, long-term management of used nuclear fuel,” said Ms. Leslie. “We want to foster and support opportunities for young people in Huron-Kinloss and South Bruce. Our local youth have a lot to offer, and as we engage with them as part of Canada’s plan, we hope to strengthen the impact they will have on their communities.”


All the remaining communities in the site selection process have identified youth engagement as a priority. Ms. Leslie has dedicated much of her time the last few months visiting schools in South Bruce and Huron-Kinloss, hosting classes at the NWMO Learn More Centres, and co-ordinating tours for students to the Ontario Power Generation’s Western Waste Management Facility.


NWMO President and CEO Laurie Swami has visited schools across the siting communities to highlight the importance of engaging youth by participating in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) learning initiatives. 


In addition, elementary and high school students from Hornepayne and Manitouwadge gathered before the end of the school year to celebrate at the Robotics Learning Fair (see video).


“We are proud to be part of work to help open opportunities for young girls and boys to pursue math, science and engineering programs that will set them up for future success. These children are learning skills applicable to this and other projects of the future,” stated Ms. Swami.


Elementary schools and high schools in South Bruce and Huron-Kinloss were treated to an energy and nuclear power discussion with University of Calgary Prof. Jason Donev, and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission also made stops to talk about radiation and its role as Canada’s independent nuclear regulator.


Youth engagement efforts in the northern Ontario siting communities have involved visits from local schools in Dryden and Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation, as well as a career talk at Ignace Public School. The Ignace Learn More Centre also plays host to LEGO nights and movie nights. 


“It’s always rewarding to engage with young people from the area on our project. Last year, we had area schools tour our Learn More Centre. This year, it was great to welcome the Grade 7 class from Dryden’s Open Road School,” said Rachelle Davenport, NWMO Relationship Manager for Ignace.


The NWMO’s Toronto Learn More Centre and Oakville proof test facility are also popular destinations for school trips. Classes from Manitouwadge, Hornepayne and Ignace have dropped by to further their learning about the project.


Local youth have highlighted their desire to seek out information on social media, specifically on Instagram. Already established on Facebook since October 2017, the NWMO recently launched on Instagram (follow @nwmocanada) with content highlighting its activities, and is working towards digital products that will help introduce Canada’s plan to the next generation.