When Percy Paul lay in a grassy field as a boy, staring at the aurora borealis in the skies over northwest Saskatchewan, he didn’t understand the science behind their colourful dance. But he was curious – insatiably curious – about the natural world around him.
As he grew up, he fed that curiosity by reading every book he could find around the English River First Nation reserve where he grew up. “The local library was a wonderland, a buffet of food for a hungry mind,” he writes in a column published this week in the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix.
“The Encyclopedia Britannica fascinated me, especially the section on mathematics. I didn’t understand what all the strange symbols meant, but I was intrigued because they looked a bit like the written word in the Dënesųłiné (ᑌᓀᓱᒼᕄᓀ) language.”
Now a research assistant studying string theory at Perimeter Institute, Paul wrote the newspaper column in hopes of inspiring young people in his home province to fuel their curiosity at “Innovation Festival: Saskatchewan,” a province-wide celebration of ingenuity that launched this week in collaboration with Innovation150.