College of Education Alumni in the News

1 This page features College of Education Alumni that have been "in the News" within the past 6 months.

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Alumni in Sochi

Two former College of Education Students headed to Sochi, Russia to represent Canada at the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

One of those individuals is para-nordic cross-country skier Colette Bourgonje (BSPE’84, BEd’85).

Making the shift to wheelchair racing from cross-country running after a car accident caused a spinal cord injury came relatively quickly. Expanding into cross-country sit-skiing took more than ten years. Bourgonje has found success in both, being one of the few athletes to have won medals—an impressive 10—in both summer and winter Paralympic Games.

Sochi was Bourgonje’s tenth, and most likely last, games in more than two decades of Paralympic competition.

Now a teacher in Prince Albert, Sask., Bourgonje is a member of the Saskatoon Sports Hall of Fame, and you may recognize her name on street signs while driving in the Silverspring area of Saskatoon.

The other Alumnus is NHL referee Brad Meier (BSPE’91, BEd’92). Top-tier judges, officials and referees in their respective sports play an important role in international competitions, especially in the intense spotlight of the Olympics.

Meier, who currently calls Calgary, Alta. home, is one of seven NHL referees named to the international crew of 28 officials for men’s hockey, which includes referees and linesmen.

Refereeing hockey since he was 12 years old, Meier made the switch from amateur to professional in 1999. Career highlights include officiating at two Memorial Cups, a World Junior Championship, multiple Stanley Cup playoffs and the 1998 Olympic Games in Nagano, Japan.


Roughrider All-Star (and Alumnus) Wins Again!

 The name of retired Saskatchewan Roughrider, Gene Makowsky, will be forever etched into Saskatchewan Roughrider History. On September 20th 2013, he was inducted into the Plaza of Honour at Saskatchewan’s most prestigious sporting dinners.

Makowsky graduated from the University of Saskatchewan in 1997 with a Bachelor of Education degree. Since then he has played 17 seasons with the Roughriders; played the most regular season games in Roughrider history (284), plus 17 playoff games, and in four grey cups, winning in 2007. He has accumulated numerous prestigious awards throughout his career, including being named two-time CFL Offensive Lineman of the Year, three-time West Division Most Outstanding Lineman, seven-time West Division All-Star, and five-time CFL All-Star.

Makowsky retired from the CFL in 2012, and has since turned his passion and dedication to Saskatchewan into pursuing a career in politics. He was elected to the Legislative Assembly as a member of the Saskatchewan Party in 2011 and soon after, the Premier of Saskatchewan named him Deputy Whip.

Canada's Most Powerful Women

Karen Chad, Alumna and vice president of research at the U of S, was named to the 2013 Most Powerful Woman: Top 100 Award in the category of Public Sector Leader.


She has been recognized for her ability to attract top talent and research funding to the University of Saskatchewan. As a Kinesiology researcher, she has been awarded numerous grants and mentored many graduate students and post-doctoral fellows. 


Alumnas Publishes Third Book

Baba’s Babushka: A Magical Ukrainian Wedding


Wedding bells are ringing in the past! The wind brings Natalia a babushka just like the ones her Baba used to wear, taking the young girl on a magical journey to an autumn long ago to discover the wedding traditions of her Ukrainian Heritage.

 Marion Mutala earned a Bachelor of Education Degree in 1979 and Masters of Education Degree in 1996. With a mad passion for the arts, Marion Mutala loves to write, folkdance, sing, play guitar, garden, travel and read. Marion credits her 30 years of teaching to helping her develop unique stories, songs, and poetry.

 You can find her first two award winning bestselling books Baba’s Babushka: A Magical Ukrainian Christmas and Baba’s Babushka: A Magical Ukrainian Easter at a bookstore near you!

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Cecil King: Education, Controversy, and the Overwhelming Response to His New Book.

 Balancing Two Worlds: Jean Baptiste Assiginack and the Odawa Nation 1768-1866 is a journey through the history of the Anishnabek peoples as they navigated contact with the strangers who came to their territories. Told as an Odawa narrative, this book is an account of one of the forgotten heroes of the defining conflict, Jean-Baptiste Assiginack.

From the Desk of Cecil King:

“When I came to Saskatchewan to complete my B.Ed in the early 1970’s, it was because the University of Saskatchewan was in the forefront of Indian Education in Canada.  I was a qualified teacher from Ontario but the Ontario teacher training was no different for teachers of Indian children than other teachers. I wanted to learn more about how to teacher our students and ensure that they succeeded in school.”

I knew of the work done at the University of Saskatchewan because Fr. Andre Renaud, Director of the Indian and Northern Education Program from U of S spoke all over Canada, to conferences of teachers teaching in Indian and northern communities. What he talked about was revolutionary thinking in Indian education. He believed that teachers needed to provide “education from within.” This meant starting with the child’s previous knowledge, the knowledge he/she had learned from his/her Mother, Father Grandmother, Grandfather and community and build on that. Teachers were excited by the ideas and teachers like me, Indians ourselves were especially excited because all of our education we had been told that we had to “leave our Indianness at the door,” put aside the teachings of our ancestors, leave our communities and not to speak our language because it would hold us back in learning the things that we needed to survive in the “modern” world.

Arriving in Saskatoon, I found students and faculty in the Indian and Northern Education Program who came to school every day looking for ways to help Indian, Inuit and Metis kids to succeed in school. These people were passionate about providing a better education for these kids. I was caught up in their enthusiasm. I had known Dr. Art Blue in Ontario. He was the first Native American university professor I had ever met. He was a clinical psychologist who believed that a person’s cultural background was an essential part of their being. He pushed the Indian students like myself to acknowledge our cultural selves and bring it into our teaching.    

 At first I resisted because all through my residential schools days, I had been told that the stories told by my Elders were “primitive”. They were “quaint” and filled with “superstition.” Art wanted to know about my language, and the ways of my people. I found for the first time in my education, a learning environment which wanted to support who I was as an “Odawa” person.”

I was lucky enough to be welcomed into residence at Emmanuel-St. Chad’s Anglican College. The Saskatchewan Indian Cultural College was located at McLean Hall. The College was the heart of Indian cultural research for the Indian people of Saskatchewan. From this Cultural College, Smith Atimoyoo searched among the communities for those people who had held dear and protected the history, philosophy, spirituality and cultural ways of each of the different nations indigenous to Saskatchewan. The Cultural College had the facilities to house, care for and record the knowledge of these cultural caretakers. Groups of Elders were coming to the College weekly to be recorded in their languages building a library of cultural knowledge.  I took up residence in the middle of this amazing endeavour.

                The Cultural College had a recording studio. The high quality of the recordings was essential because everyone knew that there were only a few Elders with the knowledge left. Ted Whitecalf learned the technical side of recording to ensure that the words of the Elders were there for posterity. Ed Lavallee transcribed the words of the Elders.  Smith Atimpoyoo orchestrated the Elders’ meetings so that the knowledge possessed by individuals became part of the knowledge available to others in the program itself.   

Ken Goodwill managed the College and kept the funding coming and developed the various departments to turn this knowledge into teachable materials to be used in communities and schools. At the time, Indian Control of Indian Education was the goal of Indian organizations in Canada.  The Federation of Saskatchewan Indians had been instrumental in the development of the policy for the National Indian Brotherhood in 1972. Rodney Soonias became the head of the Indian Cultural College and envisioned it as the heart of an Indian controlled education system from PreK-to university.  Critial to the development of an Indian-controlled educational system in Rodney’s plan were Indian teachers.

I became the first Director of the Indian Teacher Education Program  (ITEP) when Rodney Soonias told Dean Kirkpatrick that he could find an Indian educator to develop the program. In preparation for taking the concept for the program to the Board of Teacher Education, as it was called then, Rodney, Art, Smith and I dismantled every course taught in the Standard A Program and showed how the course would be taught with content, knowledge and methods which would be more familiar to Indian students. Today it would be called “Indigenizing the Curriculum.” Our goal was two-fold: to justify a separate teacher training program for Indian teacher-trainees and to offer a program to support the success of Indian students.

This was the milieu which brought me back to my culture after having it educated out of me. With the help of the people I mentioned in the University of Saskatchewan, I began to look to my Odawa history. I completed my M.Ed under Art Blue analyzing the concept of “animism” in the Ojibwe language. Art strongly believed that the person’s cognitive ability was tied to his/her perceptions of the world. He pushed me to look at the values and worldview underlying the words of my language. That way of looking at First languages became a fundamental part of my approach.

It was from this understanding of the importance of culture to being that brought me to the book that I have just released. J. B. Assiginack was a member of my community who was spoken of with derision when I was a child. He was called a “Sell Out” and a “Traitor.” After twenty-five years of research, I have found that he was a man raised in the Odawa way and throughout his life, which was nearly one hundred years; he tried to live true to his values and the vision for his people during a time when 3 different powers were taking the traditional life from his people. He was forced to support policies which curtailed his people’s lifestyle but at the time were less onerous than the alternatives. And, often in the process despite his concessions, he was betrayed by the British, American or Upper Canadian governments. Through the study of his life as an Odawa person, I have recorded the history of Canada through the eyes of our people. I have shown how our people had reason to disagree with the history of Canada which they were taught in the schools because it was not the history of the country that they had learned from their Elders or the history that their people had lived.”

Meegwetch. These are my words.

Cecil King

Education Alumnus Shortlisted for National Writing Award


Sally Meadows, a singer/songwriter, freelance writer, and former children’s entertainer (“Sal the Science Gal”), has been shortlisted for a 2013 Word Award for the title track from her debut 2012 CD release “Turn the Page”. With over 100 nominees from across Canada in more than 30 categories, Meadows is one of only two writers shortlisted from the province of Saskatchewan.

 Education Alumnus Named First Aboriginal Chancellor

Blaine Favel

Blaine Favel, the president of One Earth Oil and Gas, Former Chief of Poundmaker Cree Nation, Grand Chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations, and Alumnus of the College of Education, is now the first aboriginal chancellor of the University of Saskatchewan. He was appointed the position by the University Senate in the morning of Saturday April 20th. As the appointment nominator, the College of Education is very proud to welcome Blaine into his new role; we are confident that he will be a positive force for change and represent the University of Saskatchewan well.