by Rhonda Massad
Eight-year-old Sahana Khatri has been dreaming of the stars since her mom explained the constellation to her on a camping trip two years ago. The passion has blossomed into an application to the recent call out by The Canadian Space Agency for the country’s next astronauts. Her room is decorated with stars, she received a telescope from Santa last Christmas and recently hosted her space themed birthday party.
“When I look up at the stars, I am curious about what they are made of,” Sahana explained. “I want to land on Saturn, my favorite planet, because of its big ring made of rocks. When I am an astronaut, I want to do experiments to see what the rocks are made of and be able to tell everybody. I also want to explore if aliens exist on other planets.”
When Sahana’s mom, Jasmine Sharma, stumbled upon The Space Agency’s request she contacted Vaudreuil-Soulanges MP Peter Schiefke via Facebook asking him if Sahana could apply. He was over the moon with enthusiasm.
“That’s the best response I’ve gotten on any post thus far!” Schiefke wrote back. “My simple answer is yes, yes, yes. If you can get her to apply with a simple letter (why she wants to be a Canadian astronaut) I will personally give it to the Minister of Innovation, Navdeep Bains.”
According to Sharma the week that followed showed Sahana’s determination.
“She wanted help with the letter, but I told her all I would do is ask her questions to help her structure her content and learn to use a proper letter template,” the proud mother explained. “She then ordered her thoughts. She transcribed it over a week’s period. It was too cute to see her come back from day camp each day and go straight to writing her letter.”
Sahana delivering the letter to Schiefke’s office was inspiring to the newly elected MP and father of one, soon to be two.
“This is the reason we do what we do,” Schiefke stated in an interview with West Island Blog. “Meeting Sahana was the greatest part of my day. The days can be long, but she reminded me why I am here.”
Schiefke hopes the formal video recording addressed to Sahana from Bains will stick with her throughout her life and remind her that if you take the time to engage in the political process, you can get something out of it.
“I would like to capture that energy and aspiration,” he continued. “It is hard to get another generation interested in science and technology. I credit the Prime Minister, who had fostered the idea of science and innovation, even before he was elected, as the fuel for our economy and the future of our country, coupled with parents like Jasmine. Jasmine is feeding the passion by hosting space parties, space outings and getting Sahana the reading materials she needs to keep the flame alive.”
“A combination of a Prime Minister and Minister promoting science and innovation as our future joined with parents who are helping inspire children means the next generation will want to take on the torch and be a part of the newest great thing that will make our country great,” Schiefke said.
Bains’ video response encourages Sahana to hold onto her dreams until she is of age to ride in a space ship.
“It is very inspiring to see a young lady like yourself who wants to be an astronaut, ” Bains said in the short video, “as you know you are a bit too young, but the future looks bright. We need young people like you who are curious and passionate and care about science. I am confident, that in the future, that if you maintain that same level of enthusiasm and passion you too can become an astronaut.”