Skip to content

Canada's first woman in space encourages local students to help preserve this planet

I'd like them to take away the fact that the word 'ethics' means something...and so does the word 'legacy'

West Ferris Secondary student Katie Schankula has always been passionate about science, in particular physics.  After hearing Dr. Roberta Bondar speak at her high school Wednesday, she’s more determined than ever to pursue her studies.

“She’s very impressive, definitely a high standard to look up to, she’s inspirational. What I’m taking with me is that determination, and just having a passion will take you anywhere.”

Grade five student Lukas Bonnell, was intrigued to hear how the space program has evolved over the years and where it might be headed in the future.    

“It made me really want to do more stuff with space. My dream is to go to space, ultimately to Mars.”   

 North Bay is one of seven northern stops for Dr. Bondar, as part of Ontario’s 150th-anniversary celebrations.  Her speaking tours bring her to area schools, where she speaks to elementary and secondary students about her historic space flight 25 years ago, as Canada’s first woman, and the world’s first neurologist in space.  

“I think I’d like them to take away the fact that the word ‘ethics’ means something to each one of them and so does the word ‘legacy.’, said Bondar. "We can’t stop the plant from evolving nor should we stop the natural environment from evolving, but what we need to do is to have the ethics and principles to not deliberately do things in a way that injure other life forms and really, disable their ability to survive.”  

Canada’s first female astronaut shared with students how her view of earth from the spacecraft Discovery, made her even more “committed to protect this magnificent plant.”  An award-winning photographer, Bondar uses each stop of her “Earth Matters” tour, to challenge people in those communities to take on the Ontario 150 Bondar Challenge. People are encouraged to take a picture of something they ‘admire and value in the natural world’ around them, something they hope will exist 150 years from now.

“I’m hoping that with the 150 challenge, people will engage in the natural environment, will think about the natural environment, will try to put a piece of what they consider themselves on the internet to be there for future generations to see.”

Science North in Sudbury has partnered with the Roberta Bondar Foundation for this project.  Nicole Chiasson is the Director Education and Northern Programs at Science North and explains how the collaboration works.

“The photos are going to be submitted by e-mail to the Roberta Bondar Foundation and the photos are going to be collaged together in a beautiful video that is going to be specific to that city. That YouTube video will be available to the City of North Bay, the Chamber, Science North and others who want to show that video.”

The North Bay and District Chamber of Commerce is another project partner.  President, Peter Chirico says the Chamber is providing cameras on loan to any group wanting to take up the challenge.

“Anything we can do to get our citizens, our youth, outside and to capture the natural environment the city has to offer, we support.”

Details about the challenge are available on the Foundation’s website at