Curtis Brown, the superintendent of the South Slave Divisional Education Council (SSDEC), has received a prestigious award for his more than 30 years of service in Nunavut and the NWT.
Brown was awarded the Polar Medal by Governor General Julie Payette in a ceremony in Ottawa on Sept. 12.
“It’s a real honour,” said Brown, in a telephone interview with The Hub after the ceremony.
“The North has been so good to me and my family,” he added. “And to be in the North for 30 some years and to be recognized in that way just gives you a little bit of the sense that hopefully I have given back to the amount I have benefitted by being in the North.”
Brown was cited for his efforts to improve education in Canada’s northern communities with alternative programming that has contributed to above-average student outcomes, such as the SSDEC’s award-winning Leadership 4 Literacy initiative.
Plus, he was recognized for his efforts to revitalize Indigenous languages.
“It’s something that I’ll cherish,” Brown said of the Polar Medal. “To be honest, it’s not going to motivate me any more than what I already am. And really what motivates me is the people I work with and the desire we have collectively to do the best that we can for our kids. I think that, because it’s coming a little later in my career, it’s very satisfying.”
The 57-year-old, who is originally from British Columbia, came to the North 32 years ago.
At first, he worked in Cape Dorset, Nunavut, and was superintendent in the Keewatin region for three years prior to division.
Then he was recruited to Behchoko to set up Chief Jimmy Bruneau School.
Since 1999, he has been the superintendent with the SSDEC.
The Polar Medal recognizes those who have contributed to a greater understanding of Canada’s northern communities and their people. It also honours individuals who have made significant contributions to polar exploration and knowledge, scientific research, and Canada’s northern sovereignty.
Two others were also awarded the medal this year.
Susan Jennifer Chatwood of Yellowknife was recognized for her career dedicated to improving health services in remote northern communities. She is currently the scientific director of the Institute for Circumpolar Health Research, as well as an associate professor at the University of Alberta’s School of Public Health.
Paleolimnologist John P. Smol of Kingston, Ont., was honoured as one of the world’s foremost experts on environmental change. A Canada Research Chair and professor of biology and environmental studies at Queen’s University, Smol studies ancient lake deposits to ascertain how they have historically responded to patterns of global change and human impact. His research, which measures the effect of climatic change in the Canadian North, has led to policy changes and heightened public awareness.