An RCMP constable in Hay River has been recognized with an award for offering on-the-land camps for youth since 1995 and his other contributions to the educational system.
Const. Steve Beck was presented with the Partner in Education Award, which is one of the Excellence in Education Awards presented each year by the South Slave Divisional Education Council (SSDEC).
“I’m honoured,” said Beck of the recognition for his on-the-land camps. “It’s something that’s important to me and that’s why we continue to do it year after year. It’s the connection with the kids and all the generations. We’re on our third generation of kids now.”
Beck was not aware that he was to receive the award until it was announced on Aug. 27 at the SSDEC’s annual pre-school conference in Hay River.
The constable was at the conference because he had been told his wife was to receive an award.
Beck said the on-the-land camp helps preserve traditions.
“We live that lifestyle, so it’s important for us to pass that along so it continues,” he said. “It’s no secret that those traditions and cultures are struggling in today’s world. So I think we as Metis people have to remember to pass that along, or it will just die.”
Beck started the camp as a personal project, but it is now supported by the Department of Justice, which identifies at-risk youth who might benefit from the on-the-land experience, and the RCMP.
“They give me the time off every year to go and do it despite the fact that we have a busy schedule,” said the constable in Traffic Services, noting he gets two or three months every year to offer the camp.
Supt. Curtis Brown of the SSDEC praised Beck while announcing the award to the longtime hunter and trapper.
“For almost 25 years he’s encouraged children to engage in outdoor activities by providing an annual on-the-land camp, building relationships with at-risk youth and sharing traditional knowledge at the schools,” said Brown, who noted that about 150 youth from Kindergarten to Grade 12 attend the camps each year.
The superintendent also noted that Beck has long supported Hay River and K’atlodeeche First Nation schools.
Two other Excellence in Education Awards were presented by the SSDEC on Aug. 27.
The Program Staff Award winner was Laura Boucher of Deninu School in Fort Resolution.
Boucher was recognized as a Northern Indigenous educator who has regularly been identified as a role model to both students and staff.
As a program support teacher and assistant principal at Deninu School, Boucher organized the Deninu Drummers and Deninu Dancers.
The Jill Taylor Above and Beyond Award was presented to Shirley Hehn of Fort Smith. Brown said that Hehn, the phys-ed teacher at Joseph Burr Tyrrell School, goes above and beyond expectations as an avid extracurricular coach, fundraiser and organizer.