News release

Backgrounder: Honouring Spirit: Indigenous Student Awards 2021

June 21, 2021, Edmonton, AB — The Honouring Spirit: Indigenous Student Awards recognize First Nations, Métis and Inuit students who model strength and commitment in the pursuit of their personal education paths. These awards celebrate the unique qualities of students who inspire their peers, teachers, education leaders and community members while celebrating the ways of their people. Each student embraces their own gifts, strengths and potential, respecting the agency of other students to do the same in their own ways.

Award parameters

Celebrated annually, students are nominated by members of their education community based on their exemplary leadership, honour, courage and commitment to their education paths. They may be nominated by other students, teachers, principals, superintendents, education directors, trustees, school staff, Elders or another member of the education community.

Award recipients are selected by the Awards Committee, which considers 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 school. The Committee is comprised of Alberta School Boards Association (ASBA) Indigenous Advisory Circle members and one member from each partner organizations including: College of Alberta School Superintendents (CASS), Alberta School Councils’ Association (ASCA) and Alberta Teachers’ Association (ATA).

Award categories

There are three regions throughout the province (North, Central and South), with four award categories in each region. There is one award issued for each grade category in each of the three regions, for a total of 12 awards. Grade categories include:

  • K-3;
  • Grade 4-6;
  • Grade 7-9;
  • And, Grade 10-12.


Award celebration

While typically celebrated at Government House, this year ASBA recognized the 12 award recipients in a special virtual video celebration in lieu of an in-person ceremony, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Using virtual reality software, ASBA created personalized avatars of recipients accepting their awards on a virtual stage. The video celebration also included remarks from dignitaries; an opening prayer by Elder Charlie Fox, Blackfoot, Kainai First Nation; as well as a closing prayer and Honour Song by Elder Theresa Strawberry, Cree/Saulteaux, O’Chiese First Nation.

Award sponsors and supporters

This award is sponsored by ASBA and supported by the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta, the Ministry of Indigenous Relations, Alberta Education, CASS, ASCA and ATA.

2021 Award recipients

Each recipient was recognized with:

  • An award certificate signed by both ASBA President, Lorrie Jess, and an Indigenous Advisory Circle member;
  • Congratulatory letter from ASBA President, Lorrie Jess;
  • USB drive with the video celebration;
  • Unique Star Blanket, crafted specifically for each recipient;
  • And, an honorarium.


Recipients for K-3

  • North: Sawyer Mercredi; Grade 3 student from Fort McMurray Public School Division.
  • Central: Roberta Whitford; Grade 3 student from Red Deer Public Schools.
  • South: Emma Big Plume-Lafond; Grade 2 student from the Calgary Catholic School Division.


Recipients for 4-6

  • North: Hali Auger; Grade 5 student from High Prairie School Division.
  • Central: Teagan Saddleback; Grade 4 student from Wetaskiwin Regional Public Schools.
  • South: Shelby Melting Tallow; Grade 6 student from Conseil scolaire FrancoSud.


Recipients for 7-9

  • North: Nevaeh Lundgard; Grade 8 student from Peace River School Division.
  • Central: Allie Parry; Grade 8 student from Sturgeon Public Schools.
  • South: Diana (Doricia) Healy; Grade 9 student from Holy Spirit Roman Catholic Separate School Division.


Recipients for 10-12

  • North: Savannah Graves; Grade 12 student from Fort McMurray Public School Division.
  • Central: Brianna Chowace; Grade 10 student from Grande Yellowhead Public School Division.
  • South: Tanealle Shade; Grade 12 student from Holy Spirit Roman Catholic Separate School Division.