A Hay River resident was recognized for his work in adult literacy last week at a ceremony in Yellowknife.
Christopher Aitken was awarded the Ministerial Literacy Award (educator), for his role in creating the Critical Literacy Support program with the NWT Disabilities Council and the Town of Hay River to provide adult learners with a chance to re-educate themselves.
“I felt that I needed to give back to the NWT because I got work here and my kids were raised here. I felt like it was important to give back, I did have a passion for those people that left school early because of their circumstances,” said Aitken.
Aitken said during his 16 years teaching in Hay River he noticed a lot of students were dropping out before they graduated. Once he retired he decided he wanted to help those former students better their lives.
“Many of those people are now adults and they are jobless and I feel like some of the things that I could teach them is life skills and how to improve themselves – like get a job, stay in a job – so the cycle doesn’t continue,” said Aitken. “A lot of (dropouts) get judged and I don’t believe in judgment. I understand that sometimes there are circumstances that don’t allow them to come to school and (students) have to leave school and I want to help those people.”
Aitken said that he never did the work to get an award, but the NWT Literacy Council felt that Aitken deserved the award. The Ministerial Literacy Award is given annually to “outstanding practitioners in the field of literacy.”
Aitken was joined by Carly Sayers from Aklavik and Dr. Suzanne Robinson from Yellowknife who were awarded with the Ministerial Literacy Award (youth learner) and the Ministerial Champion Literacy Award respectively.
Diane Brule of Yellowknife was awarded with the Council of the Federation Literacy Award. That award is presented by the Council of the Federation in each of Canada’s thirteen provinces and territories “to celebrate outstanding literacy achievements.”
The literacy award ceremony was part of NWT Literacy Week which took place Sept. 23 to 29.