Merle Patenaude has been recognized by the Northern Lights Public School Board of Trustees for her efforts to promote learning. Patenaude strives to promote and advance the Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission related to education in Alberta.

The award highlighted her strengths in improving the lives and education of Indigenous students and promoting safe and caring learning spaces.

Patenaude works with students at J.A. Williams High School as a Graduation Coach. She joined Northern Lights Public Schools back in 2010 at Central Elementary School as an Educational Assistant.

Trustee Lorne Kaban says Merle infuses everyday life with culture and perspective not normally found in other classrooms.

“Her focus is to work with¬†Indigenous people, as opposed to speaking¬†for them. In consciously integrating Indigenous knowledge, and creating a greater element of cultural awareness into the work of the school, she makes all students feel accepted, comfortable and safe. She empowers individuals to realize that their knowledge and perspectives are valued, informed, and necessary.”

“Merle is relentless in ensuring that students have what they need to achieve and earn their success. She knows each and every student and pushes them towards success,” Trustee Kaban continued. “She is a model of pride and resilience, we are fortunate to benefit from her knowledge, caring demeanor, humility, and integrity.”