Seven people enter the NWT’s Education Hall of Fame

The Northwest Territories’ Education Hall of Fame grew by seven people on Thursday. Did any of the new inductees teach you or your kids?

On this page, Cabin Radio profiles each of 2018’s inductees and explains what they did to earn nomination to the hall of fame.

Bella Kay

Bella started as a teacher’s aide in Fort McPherson back in 1968, before training to become a teacher at Aurora College and University of Saskatchewan in the late 1970s.


A strong advocate of language, Bella graduated from the Aboriginal Language and Culture Instructor program in 2007 – becoming the Gwich’in language instructor at the old Sir Alexander Mackenzie School in Inuvik.

Bella retired after more than 30 years in her field. A biography written in her honour for Thursday’s ceremony says NWT students still tell her “mahsi cho” when they see her.

Brian Jaffray

Brian began his career in Chesterfield Inlet in 1982, moving to Fort Liard in 1987 – the first of 37 years’ service he gave to the Dehcho Divisional Education Council.

Brian served as a classroom assistant, a teacher, a teacher consultant, and a technology manager during his time with the Dehcho DEC. He also took on the role of regional heritage fair coordinator and became president of the NWT Heritage Fairs Society.

In June 2011, Brian invited six people who participated in the Berger Inquiry to visit Dehcho schools to deliver history and media workshops, encouraging students to create their own stories. This resulted in more than 200 students now having their work published in an online archive of historical images and audio clips.


This work led to Brian receiving the 2012 Governor General’s History Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Lois Lafferty

Lois retired in 2011 after 41 years in the Northwest Territories’ education system. Born in Aklavik and growing up in Inuvik, Lois taught in Fort McPherson, Fort Smith, Tuktoyaktuk, Inuvik, Fort Providence, and Fort Resolution.

Colleagues call Lois an exemplary teacher for her teamwork, leadership, and ability to engage students at all levels. She promoted healthy lifestyles and was inclusive of Elders, parents, volunteers and supporters.

Lois has received the Gwich’in Achievement Award and the Métis Nation’s Order of the Shawl, which the territorial government states is the highest honour available to a Métis woman.


One of Lois’s biggest achievements is the experience she offered to so many students in traditional music and dance, embodied in the recent successes of the JBT Jiggers troupe.

2018 NWT Education Hall of Fame inductees
2018 NWT Education Hall of Fame inductees. Photo: Jessica Landry

Jean-Marie Mariez

Jean-Marie Mariez is described as “a dedicated professional with an infectious enthusiasm and passion for education for nearly 30 years.”

His colleagues highlight his work on YK1’s French Revitalization Project in 2004, for which he was the guiding force.

Jean-Marie is credited with being part of the reason why 20 percent of the YK1 student population is now enrolled in French Immersion, alongside contributions to an extensive after-school program.

He is an ambassador, recruiter, language advocate, student supporter, community supporter, and a positive and passionate educator.

Gerard Landry

Gerard teaches at St Patrick’s High School in Yellowknife, where colleagues say he is a “genuine, humble, professional, equitable, and inclusive” educator.

He is applauded for creating numerous teams to make sure every student who tries out has a spot, working to give everyone an opportunity to play and experience teamwork and dedication to a goal.

In the classroom, Gerard has an exceptional ability to engage with even the most reluctant students, offering support and encouragement.

One former student said: “He never settled for just ‘okay’ and would continually encourage you to strive for better.”

Rosa Mantla

Rosa’s career has included roles as an education assistant, a teacher, a Tłįchǫ Immersion teacher, a principal, and a Tłįchǫ language and culture coordinator.

Colleagues describe her as “authentic in every way” as she promotes Tłįchǫ language and culture in every aspect of life. “She is deeply committed to the revitalization of the Tłı̨chǫ language and culture in the region,” her biography reads.

A recent graduate of the University of Victoria with a Master’s degree, she is a strong advocate for education and a resource for others working to obtain degrees in many different fields.

Chris Gilmour

Chris receives the 2018 Minister’s Choice Award, given to an individual who makes a significant contribution to changing the face of education in the North.

Chris began in Inuvik in 2002 as the grade 5/6 teacher at Sir Alexander Mackenzie School, before moving to Samuel Hearne Secondary School as the information technologies teacher.

He later became a vice-principal, then supervisor of schools, and eventually superintendent.

Chris was the driving force behind what is now known as Northern Distance Learning – the videoconferencing and e-learning approach to studies that gives students from small communities the chance to access high-quality programs.

One of his nominators wrote: “When Chris tossed the stone of using videoconferencing as the platform to connect students and teachers using e-learning into the pool of NWT education, he created a series of ripples of
success and achievement that will continue to impact our northern students for years to come.”