HOMSA funds science studies for northern students

| June 30, 2016 | 0 Comments
Professor Janine Krieber, wife of Foreign Minister Stéphane Dion, and Maria Yeganian, vice-president of HOMSA and wife of the Armenian ambassador, stand by the buffet lunch, which was donated by diplomatic spouses. (Photo: Sam Garcia)

Professor Janine Krieber, wife of Foreign Minister Stéphane Dion, and Maria Yeganian, vice-president of HOMSA and wife of the Armenian ambassador, stand by the buffet lunch, which was donated by diplomatic spouses. (Photo: Sam Garcia)

Thanks to the daughter of an ambassador — a graduate student at the University of Ottawa — the Heads of Mission Spouses Association (HOMSA) helped out a science learning initiative as part of its big annual fundraiser.
The charity, known as Science Travels, runs a University of Ottawa science outreach program that aims to expose young people in northern Ontario and Quebec and in Nunavut to science and technology.
Slovenian Ambassador Marjan Cencen’s daughter, Veronika, is a master of science student and works with the Science Travels program that was highlighted at this year’s HOMSA garden party.
Graduate students run the program, which sees them travelling to northern First Nations communities — 77 so far — to run fun science programs that excite students about a future in the field.
HOMSA has three events yearly and, as this was the group’s 20th anniversary, organizers wanted to host a big spring garden party. In addition to inviting members of the parliamentary spouses’ association, they also invited friends and charities they’ve supported in the past. The event was held on May 24 at the residence of Irish Ambassador Ray Bassett and his wife, Patricia. It sold out quickly.
In addition to requesting a $50 donation from each guest, the event featured more than 80 silent auction items.
“Twenty years of existence is something that needs to be celebrated, don’t you think?” said Florence Liautaud, who headed up the steering committee and is the wife of Haitian Ambassador Frantz Liautaud. After hearing from the charity, attendees enjoyed a sumptuous international buffet featuring food provided by the diplomatic spouses.
Science Travels sends teams of four graduate student volunteers to northern communities to present a week’s worth of workshops.
“They’re hands on, fun and interactive,” said Professor Barbara Vanderhyden, director of Science Travels. “We choose topics that are most relevant to the communities we’re going to — everything from climate change to nutrition.”
Closer to home, they run an aboriginal mentorship program that focuses on students at First Nations schools outside of Ottawa, in places such as Cornwall and Renfrew.
“Our students mentor high school students and we provide access to university labs if they have things they want to test,” Vanderhyden said. “Each year ends with the students coming to the university for the science fair. They stay in residence and tour around the city. We want them to become familiar with the concept of leaving home for post-secondary education.”

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