Kate Powell, the principal at Fort Resolution’s Deninu School, has passed away at the age of 44.
The Fort Resolution Interagency Committee confirmed Kate's death on Sunday afternoon. She died peacefully at her home on Friday, having been diagnosed with cancer in 2017.
On Facebook, the committee wrote: "The community of Fort Resolution announces with great sadness the loss of their beloved principal, Ms Kate Powell.
"The community members, Deninu staff members and her friend Gudrun are going to miss her deeply."
In January 2018, Kate was named to the 2018 list of Canadian Outstanding Principals – a list of 40 principals published by public education charity The Learning Partnership.
At the time, she said: "Winning this award is a great honour. I am thankful for having wonderful people to work with and a caring community to work in."
Superintendent Curtis Brown said of her award in January: "She is an exemplary leader and an inspiring individual who has had a significant impact not only on those in her school, but also in the community and beyond."
A funeral for Kate was to be held on Monday, August 20, from 2pm at the community's Catholic Church.
Speaking to Cabin Radio, Kate's colleague Brandie Miersch paid an emotional tribute.
"She took that cancer diagnosis with a grain of salt. She fought it to the bitter end, she refused be hospital-ridden. She continued to live her days, knowing she was dying, and still excelled at everything she did," Miersch told us.
"You know, somebody gets a diagnosis of cancer and you’re told you may be bedridden by December and you aren’t going to live a year. And she did not let that hold her back.
"She went to work every single day with a smile on her face. She reassured us all she was feeling fine and doing great, and she fought it until the last day.
"It may have taken her life, but it did not take her. "
Writing online, former Fort Smith mayor Janie Hobart remembered Kate's impact on the community of Fort Resolution.
"I was so impressed with the heart and dedication Kate gave to her students and the staff," said Hobart.
Johnny Bailey, a resident of Fort Resolution, said: "It was an honour to be asked to carry the casket for such a good-hearted, kind person such as Ms Powell. She will be missed by many, I give my deepest condolences to her loved ones and anyone affected by her passing.
"She helped me a lot with getting me on teams for sports and also helped when it came to school."