Grande Prairie, Alberta – On Tuesday, June 12, 2018, the Trustees of the Grande Prairie Public School District had the opportunity to recognize Charles Spencer High School’s Ryleigh Grant-Turner with an Alberta School Boards Association’s Honouring Spirit: Indigenous Student Award. These awards recognize First Nations, Metis, and Inuit students who model strength and commitment in the pursuit of their personal education path and embrace their own gifts, strengths and potential while celebrating the ways of their people. Ryleigh is one of three Provincial recipients in the High School category. Nominated by Desiree Mearon, Ryleigh has been involved with Orange Shirt Day, the 2018 Natawihowin Family Gathering for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, and is a volunteer at pow wows, round dances, Blanket Exercises, and the Spirit Seekers Conference. Ryleigh nurtures her connection with her family and traditional land in Teslin, Yukon Territory, by volunteering at the Tlingit Haa Kusteeyí Celebration, respectfully enjoying the land and spending time learning from her grandmother.
Ryleigh was unable to attend this year’s Provincial ceremony honouring the recipients, which was hosted by Lt. Gov. Lois E. Mitchell at the Government House in Edmonton. In order to ensure that she was appropriately recognized for her achievements, the Trustees of the Grande Prairie Public School District invited Ryleigh to a board meeting to present her with her certificate and special hand-crafted blanket. One of the highest honours in Alberta Indigenous communities is to be presented with and to be wrapped in a special Star Blanket. Each of the blankets includes the ‘Honouring Spirit’ star logo, a meaningful symbol representative of the different First Nations, Metis, and Inuit culture. Elder Leonard Cardinal attended the presentation of the award and offered a teaching to the Trustees and assembled guests on the cultural significance of the Star Blanket. Elder Leonard Cardinal officiated as family friends Shannon and Ken Dunfield wrapped Ryleigh in her Star Blanket in accordance with traditions.
Grande Prairie Public School District Board Chair John Lehners said, “It is an honour to present Ryleigh with her certificate and Star Blanket on behalf of the Alberta School Boards Association. Opportunities like this highlight the excellence that exists among the youth in our District. The Honouring Spirit award celebrates youth who model strength and commitment along with a focus on education and pride in their culture. We are very proud of Ryleigh’s accomplishments in all of these areas and look forward to her future successes.”
When Ryleigh was asked what she thought about receiving the Honouring Spirit: Indigenous Student Award she shared, “I was just doing what I was doing. I didn’t think I’d get any recognition. It’s a nice feeling and helps to reinforce my choices and shows me that I’m on the right path. It’s neat to have a motivational factor as an Aboriginal student. I feel quite fortunate to have opportunities in the community to help out.”
Ryleigh recently graduated from Charles Spencer High School. In the fall, Ryleigh plans to attend Yukon University and will be pursuing a Bachelor of Social Work. She chose to attend Yukon University because it has a strong focus on rural, northern, and Indigenous Social Work.
Please visit the following link for more information about Alberta School Boards Association’s Honouring Spirit: Indigenous Student Award: http://cli.re/G5r38Z
About Grande Prairie Public School District (GPPSD):
The Grande Prairie Public School District is a learning community in the city of Grande Prairie responsible for the education of over 8,300 students (Preschool to grade 12) in 18 schools. The Grande Prairie Public School District is proud to provide a variety of Preschool, French Immersion, Montessori, Christian Education, sports-focused and International Baccalaureate programs serving to students and parents of the Grande Prairie community. GPPSD believes in creating a nurturing environment where “Every Student Succeeds.” Visit us online at www.gppsd.ab.ca and follow GPPSD2357 on Facebook and Twitter.
Superintendent of Schools
Grande Prairie Public School District No. 2357
Grande Prairie Public School District No.2357
Read full release online: http://cli.re/gjm4EA