Yellowknife teacher up for music award, $10K prize

Last modified: March 10, 2021 at 5:40pm

Stephen Richardson, a music teacher at Yellowknife’s École St Joseph School, has been nominated for the 2021 MusiCounts Teacher of the Year Award.

Richardson is up against four other nominees for the prestigious award, which will be presented alongside Canada’s Juno music awards at a gala in May in Toronto.

If he wins, he’ll receive $10,000 alongside a significant donation toward the music program at St Joe’s. All nominees – there are five this year – receive a $1,000 cash prize.


The award is presented by MusiCounts, a music education charity. 

“With the success of his students at the core of his teaching, Stephen encourages them to thoroughly explore the rhythm practices of both their own and of other cultures,” the charity wrote in a news release, noting Richardson invites Indigenous and world musicians to his classes and runs extracurricular clubs that teach things like the African djembe and Puerto Rican cajon.

The assistant principal of École St Joseph School, Tony Florio, was quoted as saying, “Stephen demonstrates daily his passion for teaching music.

“He also teaches full-time guitar lessons, and mentors students in grant writing and recording. He also continues with his own recording and gigging schedule under his own music business.”

Richardson’s elementary school bands have in the past won gold at the Yellowknife Music Festival. He has won three federal arts album grants.


Another Yellowknife musician, Leela Gilday, is in the running for two awards at the Junos. Gilday’s album North Star Calling is up for two Juno awards: the Indigenous artist or group of the year award and the contemporary roots album of the year award.

Correction: March 10, 2021 – 17:37 MT. An earlier version of this article, based on a news release issued in MusiCounts’ name, stated the $10,000 cash prize would go toward the music program at St Joe’s. That isn’t the case. According to MusiCounts’ website, the $10,000 prize goes to the teacher who wins the award. There is a separate donation to the music program of that teacher’s school.