Caroline Cochrane: 2018 Education Hall of Fame

News Type: 
News Release

Delivered on May 31, 2018

Mr. Speaker, today in the Great Hall of the Legislative Assembly, we celebrated seven individuals who have made tremendous contributions to education in the Northwest Territories.

The Department of Education, Culture and Employment launched the Education Hall of Fame in 2010 to recognize outstanding educators, volunteers, board members, administrators and community members involved in education across the territory. 

Mr. Speaker, for this year’s celebration, nominations came from every region.

From the Beaufort Delta region, Bella Kay is a life-long learner who began her career in 1968 as a teacher’s aide in Fort McPherson. In 1976, she enrolled in the Teacher Education Program through Aurora College and the University of Saskatchewan and entered the world of teaching. That wasn’t the end of her learning. Ms. Kay once again returned to Aurora College for the Aboriginal Language Instructor program, from which she graduated in 2007. Bella Kay has dedicated more than 30 years to educating the children of the Beaufort Delta. She has shown an outstanding commitment to both teaching and life-long learning.

From the Dehcho region, Brian Jaffray is a Teacher Consultant with the Dehcho Divisional Education Council. Mr. Jaffray has a long and varied career in northern education, spanning more than 36 years. He has been a leader in the procurement and use of education technology; ensuring small schools had the resources they need to succeed. He has worked on special school projects requiring technology and media support, and he served both as a regional coordinator of Heritage Fairs and the president of the NWT Heritage Fairs Society.  Mr. Jaffray is a true leader who has always been motivated by a deep and abiding desire to do what is best for students.

From the South Slave region, Lois Firth Lafferty is a retired teacher from Fort Smith who is Metis of Gwich’in and Scottish heritage. She is committed to excellence and willing to give her time, knowledge, energy and passion to make sure students achieve excellence in all that they do. Lois is described as an unselfish, compassionate educator who has touched the lives of many, young and old, through her contagious, positive attitude and an instinctive ability to light up any classroom since 1979.

From the Tłįchǫ region, Rosa Mantla is the Language and Culture Coordinator in Behchokǫ̀. Ms. Mantla is fluent in the Tłı̨chǫ language and she is deeply committed to the revitalization of the Tłı̨chǫ language and culture in the region.  She has worked in many capacities in the education system, including teacher, immersion teacher and principal. A recent graduate of the University of Victoria with a Master’s degree, she is a strong advocate for education and a resource for others working to obtain degrees in many different fields.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  In the North Slave region, Jean Marie Mariez is the Supervisor of French Studies at Yellowknife Education District No. 1. He has been instrumental in promoting second language education for children in Yellowknife for more than 15 years. Through his tireless efforts, thousands of children have obtained second language proficiency in French. At YK1 schools, he instituted an Early Immersion program and an Intensive French and Post-Intensive French program. These programs have allowed students to graduate with proficiency in English and French. Each year there is an increase in the number of students who enter either the French Immersion or Intensive French program. The linguistic approach in Intensive French and the overall success of the program has led to the advancement of the Indigenous language program.

Also from the North Slave region, Gerard Landry is a teacher at St. Patrick’s High School where his dedication to fair play in sports and in the classroom has been experienced by students for decades. Mr. Landry will create numerous teams to make sure every student who tries out has a spot, and he works to give all of them the opportunity to play and experience teamwork and dedication to a goal. In the classroom, whether a student is initially engaged or not, he encourages and supports them to reach their potential.  One of his former students said “Because of his humility and calm demeanor, his efforts and the impact of his actions are often overlooked…he has had a profound but quiet impact on the lives of northern students. It’s hard to describe the impact an educator has on a student’s life, it’s not the big events that make a difference, it’s the small and constant ones that add up to change a student’s life.” 

Mr. Speaker, I had the difficult task of choosing the Minister’s Choice Award. Chris Gilmour, Superintendent of the Beaufort Delta Education Council, stood out amongst the many great choices. After assuming responsibility for educational technology in lnuvik's schools, he recognized that students in small community schools needed better and more consistent access to academic courses. With his strength in instructional technology, he was pivotal in developing the Northern Distance Learning program, which provides academic high school courses in small communities.

This is an exciting program that continues to expand to more communities and that will serve the territory for years to come.  Next month, thanks to the program Mr. Gilmour started, three students from Ulukhaktok will be graduating from high school and entering a university of their choice, without having to complete any upgrading. From his beginnings as an elementary school teacher to his current role as the Superintendent, Chris Gilmour has made equity in education his priority.

Mr. Speaker, this is our ninth group of inductees into the Education Hall of Fame.  The 2018 inductees inspire us with their dedication, caring, creativity and passion. All of these distinguished people are with us in the Gallery today.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask Members to join me in honouring the 2018 Education Hall of Fame inductees for their commitment to the students, families, and communities of the Northwest Territories.

Masi, Mr. Speaker.