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National honour for language instructor
Deninu School's Angie Fabien receives award in Ottawa

Paul Bickford
Northern News Services
Published Monday, November 25, 2013

An aboriginal language instructor at Deninu School in Fort Resolution has received a national award for her educational efforts.

Angie Fabien was among the winners of the 2013 Prime Minister's Awards for Teaching Excellence, which were presented on Nov. 20 in Ottawa.

"I am so honoured," Fabien said from Ottawa on the day after receiving the award from Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

"That was so awesome. It was just like wow," she said. "I am so touched to be amongst a lot of professionals right across Canada."

Fabien, who is in her fifth year as the Chipewyan language instructor at Deninu School, is one of only 16 winners of the Award for Teaching Excellence from across Canada.

"It goes to show that I must be on the right track here," she said when asked what the award means to her.

Fabien thanked the students and her colleagues at Deninu School for helping her promote the Chipewyan language.

Kate Powell, the principal at Deninu School, is pleased with the honour for Fabien.

"I think everyone in the school is very proud of Angie," said Powell. "We realize how fortunate we are to have such an amazing aboriginal language teacher who not only goes above and beyond in what she does in her classroom, but ensures it gets out of the classroom, too."

Fabien has Chipewyan words posted all over the school, Powell explained.

"Wherever there's a space and wherever there's an opportunity to put a Chipewyan word, she's there."

The principal said Fabien encourages her students to help teachers learn some of the Chipewyan language.

Powell said it is a boost for Deninu School to have a staff member receive a national award.

The prime minister presented the awards on Nov. 20 to coincide with National Child Day, which marks the date Canada adopted the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The awards included both the Prime Minister's Awards for Teaching Excellence and Excellence in Early Childhood Education.

"Good educators guide, inspire and motivate us to want to learn on our own. They sow the seeds of knowledge that yield well-educated Canadians who are able to compete with the best in the world and generate new ideas and prosperity," stated the prime minister in a news release. "I would like to congratulate all of the recipients of this year's awards on their remarkable achievements."

The 2013 awards were given to 60 educators from across Canada. Of that number, 21 national-level recipients - including Fabien - personally received their awards from the prime minister.

Brent Kaulback, assistant superintendent with the South Slave Divisional Education Council, praised Fabien for her efforts at Deninu School.

"She is a true champion of the language and culture of the Dene people," Kaulback stated in a news release.

"Yet, Angie brings more than enthusiasm and commitment to her teaching position. She is a natural teacher - one who has developed a program that has captivated the interest of her students.

"Through her creativity in the classroom and her efforts to keep her lessons topical and vital, the students themselves have become equals in their commitment to the Chipewyan language. They are engaged, involved and eager to learn."

In 2007, Fabien was awarded the Aboriginal Education Award by the Northwest Territories Teachers' Association. She was also a member of the Deninu School team that was recognized with a Premier's Award of Excellence in 2012.

Fabien was also a key contributor to the award-winning dictionary of the Fort Resolution dialect of the Chipewyan language.

She has worked in education for more than 20 years, beginning her career as a custodian and then moving to the classroom as a special needs assistant. She later assumed the role of organizing cultural instruction for the staff and students at Deninu School, and then was encouraged to take on the role of aboriginal language instructor.

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