Longtime Leaders in Educational Excellence Recognized at Annual General Meeting

July 13, 2018

EDMONTON – The Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF) is pleased to honour the careers and contributions of five outstanding educators during its Annual General Meeting which is currently being held at the DoubleTree by Hilton West Edmonton.

This year’s CTF Outstanding Indigenous Educator Award is being given to Wilfred Buck, a Science Facilitator with the Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre Inc . Despite his impoverished upbringing, drug and alcohol addiction, and grade 7 education, Buck decided to go sober at age 29 and pursue a career in teaching. After intensive schooling, Buck earned a Bachelor’s degree and Post-Baccalaureate diploma in Education from the University of Manitoba. Buck has taught courses at elementary and secondary grade levels, and created an innovative First Nations Astronomy program. Its use of hands-on tools like a portable planetarium and laser pointers have garnered national recognition for its unique methods of teaching sky knowledge.

Wilson Bearhead, a Nakota Elder and Wabamun Lake First Nation community member in central Alberta, is the recipient of the CTF Indigenous Elder Award. Bearhead worked in child welfare and addiction treatment prior to becoming the Assembly of First Nations regional Chief, where he managed the national youth portfolio. Bearhead has taught in public, Catholic, and First Nations school boards, using nature and storytelling as powerful tools to convey and enhance his lessons. Bearhead also has committee involvement in initiatives such as Project of Heart, a national organization seeking to uncover the history of the residential school system.

The first of three CTF Special Recognition Award honourees is Gwen Dueck, the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation (STF)’s first female Assistant General Secretary and General Secretary (now Associate Executive Director and Executive Director, respectively). Along with her 13 years of teaching experience, Dueck has been a steadfast leader in social and political advocacy, as well as professional stewardship and responsibility. Dueck has played key roles in international projects aiming to assist developing areas with teaching resources, such as the STF partnership with the All India Primary Teachers’ Federation. Her firm and visionary leadership provided stability during many changes in Saskatchewan’s education system.

Don Ash is the second CTF Special Recognition Award laureate, a former Executive Director of Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers’ Association (NLTA) who also served on its Provincial Executive Council. Ash was also branch president as well as Administrative Officer and Assistant Executive Director with the Council. Ash’s work in the Benefits and Economic Services Division and the Professional Development Division supported an over 20% increase in NLTA members’ salaries. Under Ash’s negotiation and leadership, a Joint Sponsorship Pension Agreement reached between the NLTA and provincial government saw fully funded pension plan and the creation of the Teachers’ Pension Plan Corporation.

The final recipient of this year’s CTF Special Recognition Award is Dr. Gordon Thomas, with 41 years of public education service to his credit. Introduced into the field by his father, a high school teacher of over 40 years, Thomas embodied a collegial approach in both his policies and his leadership style. During his 34 years with the Alberta Teachers’ Association (ATA), Thomas assisted in the negotiation for a provincial government compensation of $2.1 billion in unfunded pension plan liabilities, and helped create a teacher evaluation policy model from scratch. His work inspired the Teacher Growth, Supervision, Evaluation and Practice Review , which has been in use for 20 years.

Founded in 1920, the is a non-profit organization and a national alliance of provincial and territorial Member organizations that represent over 238,000 teachers across Canada. The CTF is also a member of Education International @CanTeachersFed and @EnseigneCanada


Spokesperson: CTF President H. Mark Ramsankar

Contact: Francine Filion, CTF Communications Director, 613-899-4247 or [email protected]