When Teacher Education North (TEN) BEd student Lindsay Halcrow learned that she was selected as her graduating class’s salutatorian, she was thrilled.
“I am very thankful to have been selected for such a prestigious honour and I am over the moon,” Halcrow says.
In addition to delivering a speech to her classmates at their upcoming convocation ceremony, she will also receive a $1,500 financial reward.
Halcrow’s path to this moment has been both unique and inspiring. She grew up on Kapawe'no First Nation along the northwestern shore of Lesser Slave Lake in Alberta, where many members of her family enjoyed careers in educational settings. Her mother worked as a school librarian and her father worked as a plumber and gasfitter for their local school division. Her older sister also taught a head-start program on their reserve.
“My sister and I often talk about children’s education and how positive early childhood learning experiences are,” says Halcrow. “She has given me an insight into young children and how they learn, all while supporting me in my journey as a teacher.”
Halcrow later moved to Grande Prairie, Alberta, where she started a family with her partner, Brandon. It was during this time that she decided to pursue a career in education.
“I decided to pursue education because I feel more diverse educators are needed,” said Halcrow. “It is important for children to see themselves represented in positive roles and careers.”
“As a First Nations woman, I feel that this especially rings true for kids like me. I attended schools that had high Indigenous populations and I was fortunate to have Indigenous role models and teachers. I would like to continue that in my journey as an educator.”
In 2016, Halcrow enrolled at Northwestern Polytechnic (then known as Grande Prairie Regional College) but paused her journey to give birth to her second child.
In 2018 she re-enrolled at the school and in 2020 she was accepted into the TEN program, which offers the third and fourth year of the University of Alberta’s BEd degree in collaboration with Northwestern Polytechnic.
“I found out in April 2020 that I was accepted into the program and I was ecstatic,” she says. “The COVID lockdowns were still in full force and it was some great news during that difficult time.”
Coming together to advance racial justice
The pandemic presented many challenges, such as changing health guidelines that made practicums and other program collaborations difficult. However, Halcrow found a silver lining through the obstacles.
“Studying online had its advantages such as working from home and getting extensive experience with the technology in our tool chest,” she said. “Specifically for me, it allowed me to join the Student Advisory Committee for Advancing Racial Justice.”
The Student Advisory Committee for Advancing Racial Justice is a committee that comes together virtually to discuss issues and develop strategies to combat racism and advance racial justice at the university for students, staff and faculty.
The committee’s activities included creating podcasts and profiles that engaged students during Black History Month. The committee also plans to host a cultural diversity conference in the fall.
“The council has been an impactful and positive highlight of my last year,” says Halcrow. “It has opened meaningful relationships inside and outside of the committee. I felt supported by my fellow committee members and the Deans and their support staff.”
Aspiring to learn more
After graduation, Halcrow plans to work as a substitute teacher in order to gain experience with different grades and school divisions before applying for a teaching contract.
“I hope to be an educator that students can trust. We, as adults, sometimes forget how important things are when we are young. If a young person shares their dreams, difficulties, and anything in between, we must remember that these moments are big for them and we must listen to and support them the best we can.”