Doing What’s Best for Kids

Thickwood Heights Student Receives Prestigious Honouring Spirit: Indigenous Student Award

Posted on: News Release Student Showcase
From left: Honourable Salma Lakhani, Lieutenant Governor of Alberta, Michael Gambler Gilks, Adriana LaGrange, Minister of Education at the award ceremony in Edmonton

(Fort McMurray, AB, June 27, 2022) Fort McMurray Public School Division (FMPSD) is ending the academic year on a high note. We congratulate Michael Gambler Gilks, our grade 6 Thickwood Heights Public School student, who received the prestigious Honouring Spirit: Indigenous Student Award on June 25, 2022. Presented annually by the Alberta School Boards’ Association (ASBA), the Award was given to only 12 Alberta students, selected from more than 270 nominees from across the province!

The ceremony, hosted at Government House in Edmonton was headlined by the Honourable Salma Lakhani, Lieutenant Governor of Alberta, (Top left photo) and Adriana LaGrange, Minister of Education. 

The Honouring Spirit awards recognize First Nations, Métis and Inuit students who model strength and commitment in the pursuit of their personal education path and embrace their own gifts, strengths and potential.

Michael, 12, is Cree from Bigstone Cree Nation in Wabasca, AB. He is well-known across the school, and Division for highlighting his Indigenous culture, and is front and centre promoting cultural activities such as complex bead work for making pins for Orange Shirt Day, leading fundraisers for reconciliation projects, mentoring younger grades, and Indigenous jam-making, to name a few. He was ecstatic to receive the Award.

"The Governor General gave me a pin. I've never won an award before...Maybe I can again. This was awesome,” shared Michael.

Shirley-Ann Oldnall, Michael’s teacher, and FNMI Liaison at the school nominated him. She was overjoyed with Michael’s win.

“Michael recognizes that his culture is the essence of who he is and is essential to his well-being. He has worked hard to repair the ruptures of cultural continuity and reconcile the disparities in Indigenous and Eurocentric worldviews. What determination and spirit of generosity he shows. I admire and praise him and am so proud I could burst!”

David Parsons, Principal, Thickwood Heights Public School, noted “this is a wonderful acknowledgement of the hard work put in by Michael and his mentors. It is a tribute to Michael’s success in seeking out and maintaining his culture. We are very proud of his accomplishments and his continued efforts.”

Annalee Nutter, Superintendent, FMPSD congratulated Michael.

“We have seen Michael lead Indigenous activities time and time again at the school. The younger students, even his teachers, look up to him for his leadership, and we are all the better for it. We can’t thank Michael enough for always stepping up, and teaching us. This is a well-deserved Award, and we can’t wait to see what Michael will share next.”

Congratulations Michael!

For more information, please contact:
Kiran Malik-Khan
Communications Consultant