NWT inducts eight to education hall of fame

The territorial government on Wednesday welcomed eight educators to the NWT’s hall of fame.

All five of the territory’s regions were represented at a ceremony inside the legislature’s Great Hall.

Here are the 2019 inductees:


Sheila Cook grew up in Hay River and graduated from Fort Smith’s teacher education program in 1985. She taught at Princess Alexandra and Harry Camsell schools and now volunteers as a director of the Hay River Museum.

Eileen Erasmus has spent nearly 20 years teaching at Ndilo’s K’alemi Dene School. She is praised for her status as a role model for the community’s youth, and her approach to helping teachers “see the curriculum through the lens of Indigenizing education.”

Michelle Brown first worked in the NWT at Fort Smith’s Joseph Burr Tyrell Elementary School. Previously recognized for her work with awards in 1999 and 2005, Michelle laid the foundation for the Leadership for Literacy initiative, which – the territory says – “has become a model for literacy programs in other jurisdictions across Canada.”

Brenda Johnson worked for 31 years with YK1 at Mildred Hall School as a program support teacher, then at Range Lake North and NJ Macpherson schools, before becoming a curriculum coordinator. “Brenda is a teacher extraordinaire, an excellent mentor, and a curriculum and assessment expert, but her passion lies in making a difference,” said the territory.

Gayle Strikes With A Gun came to the NWT in 2000, from the Piikani Nation in southern Alberta, to become a school principal in Fort Good Hope. She then worked in Norman Wells before becoming assistant superintendent in the Beaufort Delta. She served as Chief of the Piikani Nation for three years before returning to the NWT as an Indigenous language and culture coordinator in 2015.


Claudia Parker began her NWT teaching career in 1980, working first in Yellowknife, then Fort Smith. She became superintendent of Yellowknife Catholic Schools, in which capacity she has chaired the territory’s curriculum implementation committee and helped create the school district’s student leadership initiative for Indigenous youth. “Claudia has always listened and asked the important and sometimes difficult questions,” said the territory.

Steve Nicoll has taught in Fort Simpson since 2002, with a passion for hands-on learning and outdoor education – including survival skills and traditional culture camps. He helped students to form a gay-straight alliance at the high school and is praised by the territory for his support of “vulnerable and marginalized students who often have had fewer opportunities than others.”

Sheila Kindred, selected for her award by the education minister, began her career as an education assistant and interpreter for the deaf, later becoming a program support teacher in Fort Smith. She is now the South Slave DEC’s regional inclusive schooling coordinator. “Sheila’s extensive knowledge about serving and supporting children with complex needs, autism, behaviour management challenges, and social-emotional issues has made her an invaluable resource,” said the territory.