NAIT instructor recognized for commitment to aboriginal student success
Graduate felt empowered to re-discover her First Nations roots after being inspired by instructor Donna Bentley
A NAIT business instructor is the recipient of the 2016 Sen. Thelma Chalifoux Award for her commitment to aboriginal student success.
Donna Bentley, Bachelor of Administration, Management instructor, was recognized today for her outstanding teaching and commitment to diversity, cultural awareness and inclusion. Bentley was nominated for the award by one of her former students, Dawn Lameman. Lameman, who graduated in May with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree, says Bentley empowered her to re-discover her First Nations culture and heritage.
Lameman was a student in Bentley’s leadership course. As part of the course, Bentley encouraged her students to get to know themselves rather than focusing on group projects. As Lameman explains, it was a chance for “self-discovery.” During one assignment, Lameman was encouraged to connect with a cultural mentor to build on her leadership skills. She spent three days with her uncle at Maskwacis Cultural College learning about hereditary chieftainship.
The entire process helped Lameman learn more about her First Nations culture and heritage. A single mom with two young children, Lameman said the assignment helped her break through “the stigma of being ashamed of being First Nations.”
- Introduced in 2000, the Sen. Thelma Chalifoux Award is presented annually by NAIT to individuals or organizations that have demonstrated a commitment to Métis and First Nations student success.
- Chalifoux was the first Métis woman in the Senate, appointed by then-Prime Minister Jean Chretien on Nov. 26, 1997 to represent Alberta. She served until Feb. 9, 2004.
- Chalifoux has previously served as Métis elder at NAIT.
Donna Bentley, recipient of the 2016 Sen. Thelma Chalifoux Award
“With a lot of the course work that I do, it is really about understanding our own individual potential and that can be an incredibly challenging journey for a lot of people. The student who nominated me accepted that challenge and was able to really do something with that.”
Dr. Glenn Feltham, NAIT president and CEO
“I would like to congratulate Donna Bentley on receiving this prestigious award. Her contributions to Aboriginal student success are outstanding. I want to thank her for her commitment and dedication to creating an inclusive classroom.”
Dawn Lameman, NAIT graduate and Bentley’s former student
“Donna Bentley helped me to break through the stigma to see that I have so much to be proud of as a First Nations woman. From the cultural teachings by my uncle during my cultural mentorship, to Donna’s advocacy of my people, I was able to do things I never thought possible.”
Senator Thelma Chalifoux Award
The Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) is a leading Canadian polytechnic, delivering education in science, technology and the environment; business; health and trades. With nearly 60,000 credit and non-credit students and a 95 per cent employer satisfaction rate, NAIT grads are essential to Alberta’s prosperity. Known for hands-on, technology-based learning, NAIT engages with business and industry in applied research and innovation and provides corporate training around the world. Recognized as one of Alberta’s top employers, NAIT provides outstanding returns on investment for its graduates, partners, the provincial government and the people of Alberta.
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