Calgary teacher earns national award

September 8, 2015 Cory Hare, ATA News Managing Editor

Indspire recognizes ongoing indigenous education efforts

Calgary teacher Elizabeth Gouthro is among nine winners of a national award for outstanding educators of indigenous students.

Entitled Guiding the Journey: Indigenous Educator Awards, the recognition comes from Indspire, a non-profit that funds indigenous education initiatives across the country.

A former classroom teacher in math and science, as well as a former assistant principal and principal, Gouthro earned the nod for her ongoing work as the director of learning services for the Calgary Board of Education, a role that has her overseeing the district’s aboriginal education team.

“I am honoured and I am overwhelmed,” Gouthro said.

The district has undertaken a number of initiatives aimed at improving success for aboriginal learners, improving its knowledge and understanding of aboriginal issues and forging stronger connections with members of the aboriginal community.

Examples of such work include an increased partnership with the Tsuu T’ina First Nation, which borders Calgary’s southwest corner; creating a graduation ceremony for aboriginal students that’s become more traditional each year; increasing the aboriginal component of many of the district’s ceremonies; establishing an aboriginal museum; building an aboriginal learning centre (now under construction); and consulting regularly with an elder advisory.

“I didn’t do all this work by myself. This is because of the people that I’ve worked with,” Gouthro said of the award.

She added that it’s an exciting time to be working on aboriginal issues. As highlighted by the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, many people are now recognizing the need for such work and are willing to contribute.

“I think we’ve gotten over why we need to do it. I think that people are coming together now collectively in our province about what we might need to do and how we might do it together,” she said.

Winners will receive their awards at a gala in Calgary on Nov. 13.

“These educators are exemplary in their innovation and dedication to helping First Nation, Inuit and Métis children and youth succeed,” said Indspire president and CEO Roberta Jamieson. “They are creating lasting change in the communities they serve and enriching the field of indigenous education through their contributions.”

The gala will be part of Indspire’s National Gathering for Indigenous Education, a two-day conference where more than 500 attendees from across the country are expected to take part in more than three dozen workshops and presentations, which will focus on increasing student achievement through holistic education. ❚

Award winners

The nine recipients of 2015 ­Guiding the Journey: Indigenous Educator Awards are as follows:

Thomas B. Doherty, Ontario
Elizabeth Aapak Fowler, Northwest Territories
Monique Annette Giard, British Columbia
Elizabeth Gouthro, Alberta
Delvin Kanewiyakiho, Saskatchewan
Mona Markwart, Saskatchewan
Celina Cada-Matasawagon, Ontario
Loretta C. Woodhouse, Manitoba

Indigenous Organization Award: Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey, Nova Scotia

More information about the 2015 National Gathering for Indigenous Education is available at

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