FIRST Robotics Canada, a registered charity, was established in 2001 and incorporated in 2004 with a mission to inspire Canadian high school and elementary school students to pursue further studies and careers in science, technology and engineering. It pursues its mission primarily through offering opportunities for students, working in teams and assisted by expert adult mentors, to build robots and to take part in tournaments which feature on-field competitions, judged awards and other forms of recognition, potentially including university and college scholarships. The mission of FIRST Robotics Canada is:
We inspire young people to pursue further studies and careers in the fields of science, technology and engineering
- We celebrate success in science, technology and engineering through robotics competitions for students at the elementary and secondary high school levels
- We develop communication, leadership and teamwork skills in our youth.
- We engage the community through mentorship, sponsorship and volunteering at events
With privately raised funds, the organization held the inaugural FIRST Robotics Competition in Canada at the Hershey Centre, in Mississauga in 2002. With ongoing support from the private sector and donations from the public sector, including the province of Ontario and the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, FIRST Canada continued to grow. A second high school regional event was added in Waterloo starting in 2005, together with a range of additional tournaments for elementary school students. In 2004-2005, with funds donated by Human Resources Development Canada (HRDC), an expansion program was launched, leading to the growth of FIRST teams primarily in Ontario. This program helped foster important relationships with Ontario’s school boards, colleges and universities amongst others.
In 2019, there were over 250 FRC teams involving over 7500 students, 1000 mentors and 2000 volunteers. In the elementary FIRST Lego League Program there are over 1000 teams across Canada competing in over 60 individual qualifying and provincial championships. This involves over 20000 students, 1000 mentors and 500 volunteers. In addition our FIRST Lego League Explore Program has over 350 teams across Canada involving over 1500 students. In total FIRST Robotics Canada engages over 30,000 of our youth in exciting competition based Robotics programs. We could not do it without our fantastic dedicated teachers, mentors and volunteers!
About Mark Breadner
Mark started out his career as a systems engineer and marketing representative with IBM Canada. Thankfully, for the benefit of the FIRST community, Mark transitioned over to teaching and school administration, and he then discovered FIRST. Mark Breadner co-founded the first ever FIRST Robotics team from Canada in 1998 at Woburn Collegiate in Toronto. He was awarded the Championship Woodie Flowers Award in 2008. Since that year, Mark has been a pivotal figure and tremendous leader in the FIRST community. He was the FIRST Robotics Administrator for the Toronto School Board in 2002 and 2003. Then, Mark served as Director of Canadian Association for Student Robotics (now FIRST Robotics Canada). Since 2010, Mark has served as the President of FIRST Robotics Canada.
Robotics education runs in Mark’s family, as his wife Rhona shared Mark’s vision and passion for inspiring students through the use of robotics and STEM. Rhona and their three kids have all volunteered extensively with FIRST Canada for many years. Upon retiring in June 2021 as the President, a special fund was created in honour of FIRST Robotics Canada co-founder Mark Breadner and Rhona Breadner who shared a passion for FIRST and have contributed countless volunteer hours to the organization. The Fund will support projects identified by Mark that will advance FIRST’s strategic plan initiatives that specifically focus on students.
Click here to learn more about the Mark and Rhona Breadner FIRST Canada Fund and/or to contribute.