By Melissa Wilk, submitted 2019.
Samantha Matters has worked as an engagement coordinator with the Government of Alberta, co-founded a non-profit, became the executive director of another non-profit and is now pursuing her master’s degree, all since studying environmental science just five years ago.
“Everything I did at Augustana showed me the connections between issues and the importance of thinking about things broadly.”
As a student, Samantha was involved in the Earthwise Club, the Augustana Queers and Allies group, and Indigenous Students Services. Samantha also completed an undergraduate thesis that analyzed the history of Aboriginal Peoples in Beaver Hills, and worked alongside professor Glynnis Hood as a research assistant.
Following her degree and her work with the Alberta government, Samantha co-founded a federally incorporated bilingual non-profit organization, The Poison and The Apple, in 2018. The Poison and The Apple aims to change the way Canadians interact with nature at a cultural level by taking on a variety of projects. Most recently, the non-profit published a book entitled The Forces of Nature: Gaia’s Child, the organization's first major project: “we teamed up with an amazing group of young people across Canada to create a story that uses fiction and imagination to drive connection with the natural world and help people become better stewards of the environment,” says Samantha.
Gaia’s Child inspired another aspect of the organization’s mandate: youth empowering youth. “I think it is so important to elevate youth voices and to give them more space to effect change, especially in light of the climate crisis.”
Passionate about the non-profit sector, Samantha recently joined the Centre for Indigenous Innovation and Technology—an organization that aims to increase Indigenous representation in the Canadian tech industry—as the new executive director. “We’re hoping to create programming to decrease the barriers for Indigenous people in the tech industry and to bridge the digital divide we see on reserves,” says Samantha.
Also pursuing her master of design in strategic foresight and innovation at Ontario College of Art and Design, Samantha is focusing on how strategic action and long-term planning methods may or may not be utilized in Indigenous communities.
“My experiences at Augustana helped shaped me into the systems and strategic thinker that I am today.”