Although many people are fascinated by space, most Canadians are relatively unaware of how space technologies pervade their everyday life. From GPS and satellite communications to weather forecasting and monitoring the health of crops or the extent of sea ice, the standard of living Canadians enjoy is fundamentally dependent on satellites and space technology. It is also clear that the majority of Canadians are not aware of Canada’s role in space. 

Space Matters – the brainchild of researchers at Western University’s Centre for Planetary Science and Exploration (CPSX) – aims to advance awareness of the final frontier. 

The initiative was awarded important funding today by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) as part of its PromoScience Program, which offers financial support for organizations working with young Canadians to promote an understanding of science and engineering. The PromoScience Award announcement was made today by The Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Sport, at a special event in Ottawa to kickoff Science Literacy Week.  

With a soon-to-launched website serving as its hub, Space Matters is a multiplatform initiative that seeks to raise awareness of the importance of space to Canadians and how it touches on nearly every aspect of their daily lives. It includes a visual timeline of the history of the Canadian space program and an interactive map so that Canadians from all walks of life can connect to people, events, and organizations in their local area. 

The website also includes “A Day in the Life,” a weekly blog featuring space experts to highlight Canadian contributions to space and to showcase careers in the space sector. This site also features important details for publicly available and space-relevant events across the nation so that anyone interested in space can locate a host organisation or individual in their area.

“The future of innovation and exploration depends on developing the minds and imagination of the next generation of thinkers, researchers and space pioneers,” says CPSX Director Gordon Osinski. “Humans have an innate curiosity about the cosmos and our place in it. “Humans have an innate curiosity about the cosmos and our place in it. Our goal with Space Matters is to use Space as a gateway topic into the world science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Every young Canadian should have access to a rich variety of connected learning opportunities, not just in school but throughout their community. The space sector can support a strong science culture in Canada, through a networked learning ecosystem that can empower anyone to be a 21st century learner and global problem solver, and help accelerate innovation, productivity, and entrepreneurship.”

The website will also host webinars for educators, open source space curriculum and offers an internal platform for the Space Matters community to share information and engage in discussion. New curricula based on themes “Space is Everywhere” and “A Day Without Space” will be developed and made freely available. In summer 2019 the Space Matters initiative will expand upon the space-themed summer camps offered by CPSX at various locations across Canada. The new flagship Summer Institute for Space Educators will bring together teachers from across Canada.    

All the activities of Space Matters will be highlighted and shared across Canada via an ambitious communications strategy via social media @SpaceMattersCA.

Space is also becoming even more important in monitoring the changing climate, particularly in the Canadian North, and for connecting remote communities. Looking beyond Earth, the exploration of space is an innovation driver that not only provides inspiration for youth but generates cutting-edge technologies that are frequently then applied to improving the standard of living on Earth. In parallel, there is an acknowledged critical need for STEM education in Canada. STEM jobs will grow almost twice as fast as any other profession, with more than 1 million jobs by 2018 in STEM fields, but only 16 per cent of the degrees awarded will be in STEM specializations. Space can act as a catalyst to engage and motivate young people to enter STEM fields.

The Centre for Planetary Science and Exploration (CPSX) is Canada’s leading post-secondary centre for space science and exploration research and training in Canada. Located at Western, CPSX boasts nearly 100 faculty and graduate students committed to sharing the wonder of space with families, youth, and educators.

MEDIA CONTACT: Jeff Renaud, Senior Media Relations Officer, 519-661-2111, ext. 85165, 519-520-7281 (mobile),, @jeffrenaud99