Division News

Division News

Northland celebrates Esquao Award recipients

Posted on May 6

Northland School Division No.61 (NSD) congratulates First Nations, Métis Education Coordinator Joyce Hunt and former NSD Director of First Nations, Métis Education Delores Pruden-Barrie on receiving Esquao Awards! Hunt and Pruden-Barrie were honoured at the Esquao Awards Gala in Edmonton on April 15th. The award, which recognize the achievements of Aboriginal Women in Canada, are unique because when a community nominates an Aboriginal woman and provides three letters of support, she will be honoured.

Joyce, who was nominated for preserving and maintaining the Cree Language and culture, says she hopes being nominated for this award will inspire the next generation of Aboriginal women.

“This is an important message to all of our Indigenous young ladies,” said Hunt. “It means that the creator is watching us all the time and when your time comes to be recognized, its message needs to be heard and seen. I am proud of my culture. This is who I am.”

Pruden-Barrie, who worked at NSD for many years, is now Director of First Nations, Métis and Inuit Learning and Achievement at Aspen View Public Schools. She was nominated for an Esquao Award by NSD Superintendent of Schools Donna Barrett, Cultural Advisor Herman Sutherland and Joyce Hunt. Delores says the award is a reminder of accomplishments made at NSD to strengthen language and culture.

“While working at NSD, we strengthened literacy programing by focusing on cultural competency where every child and educator became more aware of valuing diversity,” said Pruden-Barrie. “We had the opportunity to build on these cultural competencies with a variety of teaching strategies and incorporate land base learning in school communities.”

In her current role as First Nations, Métis Coordinator, Joyce spends many hours preparing and planning activities and projects, which are aimed at preserving the Cree language and culture both in and out of the classroom. She believes understanding your language and culture improves quality of life.

“Teach what you know, we are all born to teach,” said Hunt. “Be helpful to each other and learn your language and culture.”

During her acceptance speech, Pruden-Barrie shared a powerful message from a Peerless Lake Elder. She says it resonates with her to this day.

“At an NSD meeting,  I clearly recall,  Elder Louis Cardinal from Peerless Lake say in Cree “You must know where you come from; to understand yourself in order to move forward, once that happens,  then success will follow,” said Pruden-Barrie. “That comment resonates with me because my late dad Harry Pruden always said don’t try to be something you’re not.”

Joyce and Delores will both be recognized for their Esquao Awards at the NSD Long Service and Recognition Awards on Thursday May 5, 2016 in Peace River.