Bigstone Cree education authority receives NAIT award for commitment to Aboriginal student success

Published on September 22, 2017

Sen. Thelma Chalifoux Award recognizes the organization for providing funding and important support services to students

EDMONTON – The Bigstone Cree Nation’s education authority has received the Sen. Thelma Chalifoux Award from NAIT for its ongoing support of Aboriginal students studying at the polytechnic. 

The Bigstone Cree Nation, which has about 9,000 members, currently funds and sponsors 140 students through its post-secondary education program. Over the past 3 years, it has supported 13 students at NAIT. 

The education authority’s counsellor visits students throughout the year to provide mentorship as well as academic and social supports. 

The award was presented in conjunction with NAIT’s annual Aboriginal Culture Day, which included a pipe ceremony, women’s circle, blanket ceremony and a dance performance, along with stew and bannock.


  • 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.


Chester Auger, Director of Education for the Bigstone Cree Nation, recipient of the 2017 Sen. Thelma Chalifoux Award 
“We try to be there as much as we can throughout our students’ academic journey. We do everything we can to keep them positive and focused and allow them to meet their goals. I really think the Aboriginal Student Centre at NAIT is important, having a place for our kids to go to feel like they belong and they’re safe. When you have that kind of centre, you are going to have success.”

Glenn Feltham, NAIT President and CEO 
“The Bigstone Cree Nation has shown a deep and long-standing commitment to student success at NAIT and at other post-secondary institutions across the province. We are proud to present them with the Sen. Thelma Chalifoux Award in recognition and appreciation of their support.”


Senator Thelma Chalifoux Award

About NAIT 

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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