Laurie Collins (left), a teacher at Elizabeth School in Cold Lake, accepts her Esquao Award on April 27.
Three Alberta teachers were recently recognized for their achievements as Indigenous women in Canada through the Esquao Awards, an honour bestowed by the Edmonton-based Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal Women.
Among the award recipients were Angela James, principal of the Career Pathways outreach school in Wabasca; Laurie Collins, a teacher at Elizabeth School in Cold Lake; and Clarice Cardinal-Anderson, an Edmonton teacher. Awards were handed out at a gala on April 27.
With hard work, dedication and perseverance, I want to show our students they too can achieve whatever goal they have, no matter who they are or where they come from.
— Angela James, principal, Career Pathways outreach school
“It is an honour to receive this award on the behalf of Bigstone Cree Nation, youth and Northland School Division,” said James, who was described in a nomination letter as “a quiet, strong, caring and resilient leader who understands that students are the centre of every decision.”
By demonstrating pride in her own culture, James has inspired and engaged her students, parents and community on the importance of education and pride in who they are, the letter states.
“With hard work, dedication and perseverance, I want to show our students they too can achieve whatever goal they have, no matter who they are or where they come from,” James said.
Nominations by each recipient’s community, including three letters of support, initiated the award process.
Collins was nominated for lifetime achievement in education. Since 1984 she has been working at Elizabeth School in different capacities: educational assistant, playschool teacher, early childhood teacher, and then as a certified teacher for almost 18 years.
The award recognized Collins for providing a connection between her school and the Elizabeth Métis Settlement. This connection has enabled her to integrate Métis culture and values with regular instruction for students and staff.
“I am truly honoured to be nominated and accepted for such an exclusive award,” Collins said. “My intention for getting into the education field was not to receive an award but to be a role model for children and to be a good teacher.”
Cardinal-Anderson is a teacher with Edmonton Public Schools. She’s credited with demonstrating leadership and determination, as well as immense spiritual and emotional strength, while helping others understand the history and impacts of colonization and residential schooling in Canada. ❚