I am currently in Toronto attending and presentingat the Indspire National Gathering for Indigenous Education. The conference began last night with the Indigenous Educator Awards Gala Dinner, which was attended by approximately 400 educators of Indigenous students from all across Canada. When I left Cape Breton on Thursday morning, I did not know of anyone who was planning to attend this conference. I was very pleased and proud to see that I not only knew someone at this dinner, but that one of the 10 award winners was from Unama’ki.
To quote Roberta Jamieson, President and CEO of Indspire: “We are gathered together to recognize the accomplishments and incredible work of 10 educators from across the country, all of whom are passionately committed to improving outcomes for Indigenous students.” Awards were presented in the following categories: community service; Indigenous education partner; leadership; language, culture, and traditions; innovative practice; and role model. Newell Johnson of Eskasoni was presented with the Indigenous Educator Award for Leadership (Congrats again Newell!). I have only known Newell for about three years, but in this short time, I have witnessed how much passion she brings toher workas Principal at ChiefAllison Bernard Memorial High School in Eskasoni. Speaking from experience, teaching is a profession that is very rewarding, but also very challenging at times. Unfortunately, the hard work of educators often goes unnoticed. It was great to see Newell get recognized for the great work she has done (and continues to do) for her community. Good things are happening in education in Eskasoni. This would not be possible without strong leadership from Newell and others!