Improve First Nation, Métis, and Inuit student representation within STEM post-secondary programs and research careers.


The Bison Project integrates Traditional Knowledge and mainstream Science in a transformative research experience for First Nation, Métis, and Inuit (FNMI) students. It seeks to reclaim and preserve the central and momentous historical contributions of FNMI women towards saving the Bison from extinction. Students participate in land-based sample gathering, timeline development, and CLS beamline experiments exploring elemental mapping of Bison hair and grazing soil.

High School or Adult Basic Education

Workshop or Multi-year

Virtual and/or On-site

The project goal is to improve Indigenous student representation within STEM post-secondary programs and research careers. To achieve this goal, CLS collaborates with various organizations and are proud to share our current partners here, with more communications happening in the future.

The Bison Project takes a proactive approach to solve a scarcity of Indigenous Peoples in science and research by using the four R's: Restore, Replace, Renew and Reclaim. This program restores Indigenous worldview, renews gathering culturally relative scientific knowledge by Indigenous student researchers, replaces interpretation of history, and reclaims Traditional Ways of Knowing. This is done by incorporating Traditional Knowledge, Traditional Cultural Expressions, and mainstream Science concepts using the synchrotron for each FNMI community participating in the project to set their own research priorities. 

NSERC (logo in image) supports Indigenous Programs with the CLS Education Team.The Canadian Light Source is proud to offer the Bison Project and we acknowledge the support of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) PromoScience to make this possible.

Project Options


Seminars are delivered either virtual or can be in-person and are intended for a class to be introduced to CLS, synchrotron science, and background knowledge of this project. These can also be curated for an educator audience. Seminars are typically around 60 minutes long but we can adapt to suit your needs. For a full list of seminar topics, please check out our Seminar web page and view the Indigenous-focused topic options. Our Education Coordinator - Indigenous Programs would also be happy to connect with you if you have additional ideas!

Online Distance Project

The CLS Education Team offers online distance projects, connecting virtually, with students in Indigenous communities with the Bison Project.

We can also do an online distance project with this program. Students will explore the viability of being able to identify elemental changes in Bison hair, teeth, hooves, horns, and bone from various locations across North America and compare that to elements in soil gathered from Bison's grazing and feeding area. Students will virtually engage with their scientific team, collect samples (only with Traditional Knowledge Keepers, Bison Herd managers, and Elders), mail their sample to the CLS, virtually guide the sample preparation, and partake live in the experiment during a scheduled beamtime. All data and results of the research experiment will be shared with the students and teacher for presentation and future use. 

Long-Term Collaborative Project

From a Students on the Beamline group, Indigenous students putting samples in the IDEAS beamline and doing hands-on real science at CLS.
We also offer long-term projects, which can take the form of the Students on the Beamlines. Students create their own project while teachers work with the Education Coordinator - Indigenous Program for supports and resources. At times the Program Lead will be able to attend the school, meet the staff and students, perform presentations, sample preparation workshop, or attend land-based classes. When the project has reached the experimental development stage, students will (if possible) fly to Saskatoon, SK and stay at the University of Saskatchewan campus, complete a beamline experiment at the CLS, and return to celebrate and present their experience in a Traditional Cultural Expression to their caregivers, Elders, and community, of what they have learned. 


Are you interested in participating in the Bison Project, either through the workshop sessions, an online distance project, or a long-term collaborative project? Email our Education Coordinator - Indigenous Programs to start this journey!