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Colleagues pay tribute to Alfred Moses, late education minister

Long before Alfred Moses became the NWT’s minister of Education, he was a high school student in the Beaufort Delta.
As minister of Education, Culture and Employment, Alfred Moses could always be counted on to show up at concerts, graduation ceremonies and other school events. NNSL file photo

Long before Alfred Moses became the NWT’s minister of Education, he was a high school student in the Beaufort Delta.

Ed Lippert, one of Moses’s teachers from what was then Samuel Hearne Secondary School in Inuvik, remembers him fondly.

“He was a great student,” says Lippert. “His cohort, all those students, were great people, and others of his classmates went on to do other things, become leaders in the community, including a couple other people who are or were MLAs as well.

“As a student, he was pretty much the way he was when he was minister of Education, and everything else that he’s done: he worked hard. He was very caring. He was a very, very happy, outgoing kind of guy — always smiling, always had something positive and pleasant to say about everybody.”

Lippert, who would go on to become superintendent of the Yellowknife Education District No. 1 (Yk1) school board, was assistant superintendent during Moses’s tenure as minister, making him and his former student colleagues.

“Whenever we would meet in meetings while he was minister of Education, he never failed to tell everybody some kind of story, sometimes embarrassing, but always lighthearted and always positive, about me,” he recalls.

Despite the occasional banter, Lippert had great respect for the way Moses conducted himself while in office.

“He was always going out of his way to make sure he visited all the schools, all the school boards,” he says. “He used to get a lot of comments about the fact that the minister of Education would take the time out of his busy schedule to show up for things, whether it be graduation ceremonies, or an opening of a school or honour ceremonies, or sporting events or concerts. He always did his very best to show up.”

Metro Huculak was the superintendent of Yk1 for 15 years, including Moses’ tenure as minister of ECE. He can also attest to Moses’s attentiveness to his colleagues.

“Alfred always listened to what the chairs had to say, and tried to work with the chairs to ensure that the boards had what they needed to offer quality education to students,” says Huculak.

As minister, Moses is perhaps best remembered for implementing a territory-wide junior kindergarten program.

“There were some some issues, I think, with the implementation of junior kindergarten, but everything got worked out because, of course, Alfred was the kind who met with chairs and so on, and listened to them and made sure that if there were any flaws or whatever, these were corrected,” Huculak says.

He adds that it was a major loss for the education system of the NWT when Moses decided not to seek another term in 2019.

“He was one who, I think, could have made a lot more good strides to support students,” he says.

Following the news of Moses’s passing late last month, YK1 lowered flags at its district office.

“YK1 sends its heartfelt condolences to his friends and family near and far. He will be greatly missed,” the board wrote on its website. “Rest in peace, Alfred.”