'Indigeneer' speaking at local event

When you blaze new trails, you get to invent words about it.

The term Deanna Burgart invented was "Indigeneer" and she wears it like a uniform. You can do that kind of thing when you are Indigenous and an engineer.

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Burgart is a Cree-Dene member of the Fond du Lac First Nation in Alberta and also a chemical engineer. She has a specialty in policy and regulations, as pertains to industry. It's a combination of deep study and practical experience that allows her to walk in two worlds and show others how to follow the same path. She has experience working for oil and gas companies, and knows there to be a balance available between natural resources and the resource of nature.

"Indigeneer - I am one of those," she said.

"It also touches on incorporating Indigenous ways of looking at things, world views, into the engineering profession, and also challenging the profession to accept Indigenous views."

"It's about considering the impact of your actions first and foremost, before beginning a project. It's about looking at the interconnected and cumulative impacts on industrial actions on the air, land and water," Burgart added. "Indigenous values pretty much the world over are very much in line with that, and it boils down to sustainability. It's not about stopping all industrial activity. Not at all. It's about doing industrial activity but in a way that is sustainable. The environmental, social and prosperity paradigms can fit with the fourth pillar of culture. There can be a balance of all four."

Burgart will detail this balance, and the achievable duality of aboriginal principles and industrial principles, at her keynote address at the upcoming Canadian Association of Science Centres (CASC) convention being held in Prince George from May 9-11. It is hosted by Exploration Place Museum + Science Centre at the Coast Inn of the North.

The conference will look deeply into the national efforts to boost the so-called STEAM sectors: science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics. Burgart's speech is entitled Indigeneering STEAM - A Path Forward In Reconciliation Together.

She will bring her background as an Aboriginal, single, teen mom who went on to pursue specialist education and discover both her Indigenous roots and success in the natural resource economy at the same time.

It's a perfect fit with the conference theme word "Lhulh'Uts'Ut'en (pronounced Lull-uts-soo-tan), a Lheidli T'enneh term meaning "working together" since the event is being held on the traditional territory of the Lheidli T'enneh First Nation.

"My belief is, the more Indigeneering perspectives that become mainstream, the stronger we will all be as a whole," Burgart said.

"There was this perception that you were either for Mother Earth or you turn your back on Mother Earth to go work in oil and gas," she added. "I firmly believe we need people passionate about sustainability to work in all industries. I got to this place because I wanted to be part of a generation that made sure things like Erin Brockovich (the famous legal activist who successfully fought industrial contamination and continues to do so) never happened again. I wanted to be part of a sustainable future and that is accomplished by learning about chemistry, physics, environmental science, industrial sciences and by working in those fields, and speaking the Indigenous world view into these industries from within, from inside the boardroom and out in the field - not because it's an activist thing to do, but because it is the scientifically sound and fiscally responsible thing to do."

She said she learned a slogan in engineering school: Engineers Rule The World. She wants to alter that slightly: Engineers Serve The World.

Burgart is one of many keynote speakers and special guest presenters coming to the CASC conference. Convention passes are available via the www.canadiansciencecentres.ca website.

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