CBE System Principal Honoured with Indspire Award

Nov. 12, 2020

Congratulations to Mii'tsakii Biik'saki – Michelle Ranger, system principal for Indigenous Education on being selected to receive a 2020 Guiding the Journey: Indigenous Educator Award for Innovative Practice from Indspire. This national award recognizes Indigenous educators who have made valuable contributions to community-based education and honour the principles of Indigenous knowledge.

Michelle Ranger is a proud Métis, whose family originates from St. Laurent, Manitoba. Since her first year of teaching at Oskayak High School in Saskatoon, SK, Michelle has devoted her work to improving achievement and well-being for Indigenous students. Throughout her career, she has consistently shown teaching and leadership practices and strategies that exemplify innovation and excellence, which have resulted in positive lifelong impacts on the lives of children, families, staff, and the greater community.

Among Michelle’s many achievements, her role as the first principal of Niitsitapi Learning Centre (NLC): Niitsitapi li tass ksii nii mat tsoo kop (A Place of Learning for All Indigenous People) has had a profound impact on students, families and staff in the CBE. The NLC was envisioned by Elders and community as a beautiful place of learning for all. As principal, Michelle brought their vision to life. Her leadership and generosity has led to the NLC becoming a place of love, healing and learning, guided daily by the wisdom of Elders and community. As shared by Elders and colleagues, the success of the NLC is a direct result of Michelle’s leadership, innovative spirit, and commitment to Indigenous Education.

“I am honoured by Michelle’s incredible kindness and respect. I know that she is more than a great leader. She is someone I would walk with because I trust her, and so do her families and staff. Trust is one of the greatest gifts a leader can offer. We saw a transformation in the students and families at NLC. We continue to see incredible change and success. It is because Michelle had the vision of success and a belief anything is possible if you lead from spirit.”

“In all aspects of Michelle’s leadership, she brings people together. Our NLC students’ first understanding with education is a loving and nurturing experience that welcomes family, community, Elders and Ceremony. We are incredibly grateful and proud of these accomplishments, and thank Michelle for her leadership and passion.

“Michelle believes that the work of Indigenous education is not complicated. ‘It’s simple’ she says, ‘Everyone can do this.’ One of her greatest strengths is her ability to show others what she means. Many people tell others what to do. Michelle shows people what is possible. In doing so, she opens hearts and minds and orients people toward innovation and action. And, she demands that the difference those actions have made in the lives of young people are visible, acknowledged and celebrated.”

In her current and previous system leadership roles, Michelle has also designed and facilitated countless workshops, supporting teachers and leaders to honour and include Indigenous ways of knowing, being, and doing into all subject areas and school/system-wide policies and practices. Most recently, Michelle co-led the redesign of the CBE Indigenous Education Strategy, and currently provides leadership to the Indigenous Education Team as they work collaboratively with schools to bring the strategy to life across the system.

When asked to reflect on her contributions, Michelle shared, “When I reflect back on the moments that have made significant impact throughout my career, it is important to acknowledge that I have not accomplished anything alone. My leadership style is collaborative and collective, always drawing on the strengths of my team. I strongly believe we are better when we do things together. We all have a story, and it is through our story that we find our purpose. I have been blessed to walk alongside community Elders, educators, partners, and leaders who have made me a better person, educator, and leader. I share this honour with them. Together, we have wrapped our arms around this work on behalf of Indigenous students.”

Michelle’s humility, respect and love for those who help to make her a better human being and leader exemplifies why she was selected to receive​ this national recognition.

Michelle and other recipients will be honoured during the virtual Indspire National Gathering for Indigenous Education November 25-27, 2020.

Michelle Ranger, System Principal