Red Deer Public teacher receives provincial award for infusing Indigenous culture into the classroom
With a commitment to advancing Indigenous education in Red Deer Public Schools and across the province, and a passion for teaching students First Nations, Métis and Inuit culture, one local teacher has been recognized with a prestigious provincial award.
Terry Lakey, a teacher with Red Deer Public’s Learning Services, has been awarded the Outstanding Indigenous Educator Award from the Alberta Teachers’ Association - Indigenous Education Council.
“It was very exciting and I feel honoured to receive this award,” said Terry, who added his inspiration comes from his mom. “I remember the day I told my mom I was going to be a teacher. She was over the moon, because mom, being an Indian Residential School survivor, was looking forward to me making the educational experience for children way better than what she experienced. I owe everything to her and her dedication to us as her six children that she raised.”
Terry, who is in his 25th year of teaching, has been in his current role at Red Deer Public Schools for the last five years. He develops First Nations, Métis and Inuit classroom resources for Red Deer Public Schools. He is also sought after outside the Division to provide in-services and help develop resources in other school divisions across the province.
“We help develop curriculum, form relationships with elders and partners in our community, find resources for staff so they feel they are supported when it comes to presenting authentic and accurate information as it relates to their programs of studies at the grade levels they teach,” he said. “It’s all connected to what is taught in the classroom.”
Terry said there are many aspects about his job that he loves. “My role allows me to exercise my creativity and to be able to provide staff or a student with resources I have developed or found through talking to an elder or knowledge keeper is really great. To have the permission to pass things on is a highlight of my job.”
Relationships also play an important role in Terry’s work.
“In order to put a curriculum out there that we feel is authentic and genuine, it always comes down to building relationships with individuals whose cultures are represented in our programs of studies. Part of our job is to connect with those individuals,” he said. “Sometimes we can find elders or knowledge keepers or people with experience right in our own community, and if we can’t because our curriculum is so vast, our job is to find people across the country or world who can help us offer information or perspective through the lens of those we are trying to represent.”
In reflecting on his career success, Terry said he’s had the honour of working with a great team of staff.
“I need to thank the many strong allies I’ve had in the past, whether it’s an administrator, or a fellow colleague. I greatly appreciate every educational assistant I’ve had in my classroom, they are absolutely amazing. To make learning fun, dynamic and add variety, it’s a shared vision and I am grateful for every person who I've had the privilege to work alongside,” he said."It takes a village."
Hayley Christen, Learning Services Coordinator, said Terry is passionate and dedicated to making learning hands on, fun and engaging to every student he teaches.
“He works extremely hard to ensure the lessons, resources and projects he brings to life connect authentic Indigenous voice to the identified outcome in the programs of study. He is well respected by Elders, knowledge keepers and others in the Indigneous community,” she said. “I am inspired by his passion for his work and for the students and staff he serves. It is my honour and privilege to get to work and learn alongside Terry each day.”
Della Ruston, Associate Superintendent of Learning Services, said Terry is an enthusiastic and effective Indigenous educator who goes above and beyond in everything he does.
“Terry builds strong relationships with students, colleagues, and his community by helping to increase their understanding of Indigenous culture and traditions,” she said. “Terry exemplifies the four Rs of Indigenous education; respect, relevance, reciprocity, and responsibility.”
Chad Erickson, Superintendent, said Terry’s recognition is very deserving.
“We are very proud of the work Terry does in our schools,” he said. “He is a passionate educator that ensures our students are engaged in high quality, authentic learning opportunities.”