Jul 6, 2018
By James Oloo
June is a special month. It marks the beginning of summer and the Canadian Football League season. It is also the end of school year for many in the k-12 school system.
The end of the school year is, and should be, a moment of review, reflection, and celebration. Maybe some parents are not celebrating. But for teachers and schools, it is an exciting time. This is because, our (I am a former classroom teacher) students are precious to us. They need to know that, and to realize that the end of school year is a time to celebrate learning and the moments we have had together.
Every end marks a new beginning. And as students graduate and walk into their future, their teachers, while wishing them well, hope to one day connect with them. And to know that the time they shared together has in some way, enabled them to be successful. And that a former student will one day tell them, ‘Thank you, you touched my life. My time at that school enabled me to be who I am today.’
So it was a joyful moment when Janice Thompson, Head of the Saskatchewan Urban Native Teacher Education Program (SUNTEP) Regina, received a thoughtful message of appreciation from Neal Hughes, a SUNTEP Regina graduate.
Neal Hughes, as some of you may remember, played for the Saskatchewan Roughriders between 2004 and 2015. He helped Riders win the Grey Cup in 2007 and 2013. He also worked for many years as a Substitute teacher at Regina Public School Division, where he was able to impact the lives of many Indigenous and non-Indigenous students using some of the skills and knowledge he gained during his time at SUNTEP Regina (1998-2003).
Below is what Neal wrote in his message to Thompson:
I am an alumni of the SUNTEP Regina program. I am emailing to say a little thank you. I retired a few years back from the Saskatchewan Roughriders and this year the CFL has chosen me as an ambassador for their “Diversity is Strength” initiative this year. I was chosen because of my Métis heritage and the community work I did in the offseason on numerous First Nations across the province.
There will be a game in August where the team will be wearing T-shirts with my name and number on the back and the Diversity is Strength slogan on the front. I am humbled by this and want to say a big THANK YOU to SUNTEP and all involved who helped in creating the pride and strength I have for my Métis culture and heritage. I did my best to convey my strength and pride in my First Nations roots to youth across the province. Again thank you to all who were involved!