News release

12 Alberta students recognized with provincial 2021 Honouring Spirit: Indigenous Student Awards

First Nations, Métis and Inuit students who model strength and commitment in the pursuit of their personal educational paths were recognized in a special virtual celebration.


June 21, 2021, Edmonton, AB —As part of the virtual celebration for the 2021 Honouring Spirit: Indigenous Student Awards, 12 exceptional Alberta students walked across a virtual stage to accept their awards. Using virtual reality software, recipients were recognized with a certificate and a unique Star Blanket, crafted specifically for each.

“Although we were unable to be together in-person, I am so honoured to celebrate this year’s recipients with this very special video. The stories of these 12 student leaders stood out due to their dedication, their generosity and their resilience, among many other impressive attributes. I was inspired by each of them, and humbled by their capacity to excel, despite the challenges of this past year.”

Lorrie Jess, President, ASBA

Hosted by Alberta School Boards Association (ASBA), these awards celebrate exceptional First Nations, Métis and Inuit students nominated by members of their education communities, based on their exemplary leadership, courage and commitment to their cultures and educational paths. ASBA received a total of 204 unique nomination letters and submissions from across the province.

As health and safety continue to be top priorities, ASBA recognized student recipients in a special virtual video celebration in lieu of an in-person ceremony, including the creation of personalized avatars. To view this year’s full video celebration, visit:

Included were appearances from:

  • Her Honour, the Honourable Salma Lakhani, AOE, B.Sc, Lieutenant Governor of Alberta;
  • Honourable Adriana LaGrange, Minister of Education;
  • Honourable Rick Wilson, Minister of Indigenous Relations;
  • Audrey Poitras, Métis Nation of Alberta President;
  • Marlene Poitras, Assembly of First Nations Alberta Regional Chief;
  • And Lorrie Jess, ASBA President.

A special thanks to Elders from ASBA’s Indigenous Advisory Circle for their contributions and involvement with the awards and celebration:

  • Elder Charlie Fox, Blackfoot, Kainai First Nation;
  • And Elder Theresa Strawberry, Cree/Saulteaux, O’Chiese First Nation.

The awards are presented annually to First Nations, Métis or Inuit student nominees who attend a school in Alberta, either operated by an ASBA member school board or a First Nations Education Authority. Please view the backgrounder for detailed information about the awards and this year’s recipients.

2021 Award Recipients

  • Emma Big Plume-Lafond, Tsuut’ina First Nation – Grade 2
  • Sawyer Mercredi, Fort McMurray – Grade 3
  • Roberta Whitford, Red Deer – Grade 3
  • Teagan Saddleback, Wetaskiwin – Grade 4
  • Hali Auger, High Prairie – Grade 5
  • Shelby Melting Tallow, Fort MacLeod – Grade 6
  • Nevaeh Lundgard, Fairview – Grade 8
  • Allie Parry, Calahoo – Grade 8
  • Diana (Doricia) Healy, Lethbridge – Grade 9
  • Brianna Chowace, Grande Cache – Grade 10
  • Savannah Graves, Fort McMurray – Grade 12
  • Tanealle Shade, Lethbridge – Grade 12


Alberta School Boards Association (ASBA) serves Alberta’s 61 locally-elected public, catholic and francophone school boards. 

Media inquiries:
Katy Campbell
Director of Communications, ASBA
780.451.7137 |