The Northern Lights Public Schools Board of Trustees recognized Merle Patenaude for her nomination for the award for Promoting and Advancing the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation at the Board’s meeting on Wednesday, October 13.
The award, presented by the Public School Boards' Association of Alberta, is presented to those that strive to promote and advance the Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission related to education in Alberta.
Patenaude's dedication to improving the lives and education of Indigenous students and promoting safe and caring learning spaces were among the qualities highlighted by the Board.
"Merle infuses history, culture and perspectives into everyday student life," Trustee Lorne Kaban said. "Her focus is to work with Indigenous people, as opposed to speaking for them. In consciously integrating Indigenous knowledge, and creating a greater element of cultural awareness into the work of the school, she makes all students feel accepted, comfortable and safe. She empowers individuals to realize that their knowledge and perspectives are valued, informed and necessary."
Patenaude works with students at J.A. Williams High School as a Graduation Coach and joined Northern Lights Public Schools in 2010 at Central Elementary School as an Educational Assistant.
"Merle is relentless in ensuring that students have what they need to achieve and earn their success. She knows each and every student and pushes them towards success," Trustee Kaban said. "She is a model of pride and resilience, we are fortunate to benefit from her knowledge, caring demeanour, humility, and integrity."