Yellowknifer profiles eight candidates for Catholic school board

by Simon Whitehouse - October 12, 2018

There are seven positions to be filled at the YCS Board and eight candidates who have filed.
There will be two vacancies as Amy Kennedy will not be seeking re-election and John Dalton is running for city council.
The new candidates are Lori MacMillan Gallant, John Hazenberg and Candace Meadus. The incumbents running are Erin Currie, Revi Lau-a, Tina Schauerte, Steven Voytilla and Miles Welsh.

Name: Lori MacMillan Gallant
Age: 44
Family status: Married
Time in Yellowknife: 20 years
Occupation: Territorial EMR (Electronic Medical Record) educator with the GNWT
Experience relevant to the job: I have two daughters at St. Joseph School and I have been involved in Yellowknife Catholic Schools over the past 12 years as a substitute teacher, classroom assistant, Parent Advisory Committee (PAC) member and volunteer. I have been a PAC chair for four years. My daughters have attended ESJS since 2013 and 2014.
Why you should be elected: As a longtime Yellowknifer, I am invested in the education of my children in YCS, as well as other children in our community. I will bring a positive voice, enthusiasm and my experience in volunteering, education and health as a new trustee. I plan to continue to support the many successes YCS has achieved over the years and to work hard on behalf of all students.
Biggest issue(s) for next board: From a newcomer’s perspective, I will continue the work of the current board’s excellent focus on improving and supporting the learning environment of all YCS students.

 

Name: Erin Currie
Age: 53
Family status: Married
Time in Yellowknife: 19 years
Occupation: Nurse practitioner
Experience relevant to the job: I have two sons. One son attends St. Patrick High School. My oldest son graduated from ESPHS. I was on the Parent Advisory Committee at St. Joseph School and served as YCS trustee for six years. I was a YCS rep (director) on the Alberta Catholic School Trustees Association.
Why you should be elected: I am a practicing Catholic with several years experience as a trustee. I have many close ties with Alberta trustees and some with Canadian trustees. I am familiar with the current trends and issues.
Biggest issue(s) for next board: Attacks on Catholic education and trusteeship are increasing across the country. It is important to stay vigilant, vocalize the benefits of Catholic education and ensure that families will always have a choice for education.

 

Name: John Hazenberg
Age: Not provided
Family status: Married
Time in Yellowknife: I have lived in Yellowknife for 11 years and I am from Fort Simpson.
Occupation: Management consultant. Prior to this I worked in management positions in business, municipal, regional and territorial governments.
Experience relevant to the job: I have seven adult children, three of whom graduated from St. Patrick High School. I have 13 grandchildren three of whom graduated from St. Pat’s. Currently, two grandchildren attend ESJS, one is in Weledeh and one attends St. Pat’s. I have served on a variety of national boards such as Excellence Canada, the Council for the Advancement of Native Development Officers (CANDO) and on the fuels committee of the Canadian General Standards Board (CGSB). I have served on NWT boards such as the Legal Services Board and I was chairperson of the Fort Simpson Education Authority.
Why you should be elected: I can bring stability and experience to the board. I can responsibly guide the Catholic school district through the challenges of a growing school population while respecting financial constraints. I will focus on governance issues and not operational issues, which are better dealt with by management. I have a passion for education and lifelong learning. It is so important not only for students to graduate, but to be fully prepared to embark on their next level of education so that successful careers will follow. It is my goal to promote and protect Catholic education as a choice for our students. I am committed to building healthy school communities by advocating for the right resources to help our students and staff be more resilient to the challenges facing them today and in the future. I will listen to your concerns and advocate for you fairly and professionally.
Biggest issue(s) for next board: First, guiding each student through programs in which they can be successful and can lead to responsible adulthood. Second, financial responsibility and getting the most for your money in times of financial constraint. Third, making sure there is room for all our students. YCS is at maximum capacity and there is anticipated further school population growth. Fourth, environmental accountability and spiritual awareness and growth.

 

Name: Candace Meadus
Age: 34
Family status: Married
Time in Yellowknife: 23 years
Occupation: Department of Health project specialist
Experience relevant to the job: I have a stepson son who graduated (K-12 through St. Joseph School/St. Patrick High School) and a son in Grade 2 at St. Joseph School. I’ve volunteered for many Yellowknife organizations, including the Parent Advisory Council for the past two years.
As a lead with the Canadian Cancer Society’s Relay For Life in Yellowknife, I was part of a team that facilitated one of the largest fundraisers in the North on an annual basis. Through all of my volunteer work, I have helped create a culture of process documentation in order to avoid reinventing the wheel.
I have strong communication skills and work to focus on metrics in order to tie together priorities and resource allocation. I have worked in the technology field for more than 10 years. I have been striving to create opportunities to collaborate with other Northerners to develop innovative and cost saving measures that help us accomplish mutual goals in a challenging climate.
Why you should be elected: As a longtime Northerner and strong supporter of faith-based education, I understand that communication with our partners is key. Our schools must be prepared to embrace ever-changing technologies while still supporting the traditional ideals that make us who we are. I am an advocate of continued transparency and opportunities for involvement with the board and members of our school communities. This includes making sure the right partnerships are made and resources are committed in order to help prepare our children for a rapidly changing world, while maintaining strong foundations in literacy, trades, math, sciences and traditional knowledge.
Biggest issue (s) for next board: Advocating for funding. Building on the work the board has done over the past two terms, there is a need to focus on metrics in order to support the many-competing priorities in education today.
Modernization and innovation have a dollar value, therefore we’ll need to plan to have appropriate funds committed for YCS to continue to work on these initiatives. Ensuring staff and students have the right tools at their disposal requires the funding to provide spaces, skills and support. This includes consideration for inclusionary schooling resources, as well as recognition that staff efforts in extra-curricular activities directly contribute to tomorrow’s leaders.

 

Name: Miles Welsh
Age: 52
Family status: Married
Time in Yellowknife: 33 years
Occupation: I work with the GNWT Department of ITI, diamonds royalties and financial analyses division.
Experience relevant to the job: I have two daughters who went to Weledeh and graduated from St. Patrick High School. If elected, I will be going into my third term. I was trustee for the first year and and vice-chair for the next few years. I became chair when the last chair retired and I have been chair for four years. My kids have been through the Catholic school system and I was always a strong volunteer and active participant at board meetings and especially at school parent advisory councils.
Why you should be elected: I am pleased with the work that the whole board has done and for YCS. I would like to carry on what we are doing. We have a lot of work ahead of us in the coming years when it comes to building portables as enrollment has been increasing. It is just a good time to be there and I’d like to give back. I am really proud of what the YCS did for my family and I feel I owe it to them. I’m happy to pay back.
Biggest issue(s) for next board: Funding. We’ve worked well with ECE to help alleviate some concerns but it will always remain an important focus that funding partners understand and parents understand the situation the board is in when making these decisions.
I’ve always been a big proponent of classroom assistants and that has been a challenge over the last few years with tight economics. It is always about keeping money in the school. I’d like to keep the focus up on classroom assistants and to continue to put a lot of work in there. Those types of supports are really needed.
In addition, there is a lot of demand on teachers and staff to make sure proper supports are in place for inclusive schooling.

 

Name: Steve Voytilla
Age: 45
Family status: Married
Time in Yellowknife: 36 years
Occupation: Chief negotiator with the Department of Executive and Indigenous Affairs
Experience relevant to the job: I have two children at Weledeh. I have completed two terms on the board and am aiming for a third.
Why should you be elected: I have been persistent through my two terms in being involved in my children’s education. I think it is important that students at YCS receive the best possible education. I can help ensure that by participating and being part of that process.
Biggest issue(s) for next board: One of the biggest challenges for the new board will be capacity in our schools. Right now we are at a very high student population and near the maximum amount we are able to fit into the classes properly. That is why we have had to expand into portables.

Name: Revi Lau-a
Age: 49
Family status: Married
Time in Yellowknife: 25 years
Occupation: Director of policy and planning, NWT Housing Corporation
Experience relevant to the job: I have three children and they’re all attending St. Joseph School. I am going into my second term. I have experience serving local boards including Habitat for Humanity, Smart Communities, Yellowknife Recreational Hockey and the Yellowknife Golf Club.
Why you should be elected: I have very lengthy experience in board governance and extensive knowledge of government practices. When it comes to these local boards, you have to be a very strong consensus builder. You are seven independent contractors and you need to be able to find consensus in a group like that.
From a finance, policy and communications side, I bring a lot of tools from my day job that would be valuable at the board level.
Biggest issue(s) for next board: There are no big issues like junior kindergarten or high profile crises that have to be dealt with. We do have some succession planning in terms of administration that we need to go through. When you have the prospect of the turnover for some longtime serving administration officials, those have to be very carefully managed so it doesn’t compromise the operations of the system.

 

Name: Tina Schauerte
Age: Not provided
Family status: Married
Experience relevant to the job: I have two children at St. Patrick High School and St. Joseph School. I am going into second term as a board member.
Time in Yellowknife: 37 years
Occupation: Personal support program manager with with the Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services.
Why you should be elected: I’m a voice for parents and students in the system. I am a big advocate for choice in Yellowknife between the two districts. I think that our district offers great experiences, great schools and great teachers and I want to make sure that it is always there for the community.
Biggest issue(s) for next board: We were really good this term. We didn’t have any major issues. When they rolled out junior kindergarten it was a big issue, but it worked out in the end. We made it work. The department stepped up in terms of providing the needed funding. Going into this school year, junior kindergarten has exploded in Yk for sure. We had to add another classroom in St. Joe’s and we were able to get that funding from ECE.