NAIT instructor receives award for commitment to Aboriginal student success

NAIT instructor receives award for commitment to Aboriginal student success

Published on September 19, 2018

Sen. Thelma Chalifoux Award recognizes Rhonda Dever for encouraging students to explore their Aboriginal background

EDMONTON – NAIT business instructor Rhonda Dever is the recipient of this year’s Thelma Chalifoux Award for her advocacy and support for Aboriginal students at NAIT.

She was nominated by a student in her leadership class who said Dever encouraged and supported her to explore her own culture, something she had not done before. Dever arranged for speakers like Francyne Joe, president of the Native Women’s Association of Canada, to speak to the class, and invited the entire NAIT community to attend.

In her seven years as an instructor at NAIT, Dever has been a mentor for the student leadership program. She volunteers each year for the school’s open house and participates in several NAIT committees, including the curriculum committee within NAIT’s JR Shaw School of Business.

The award was presented at a ceremony Tuesday afternoon.


  • Introduced in 2000, the Sen. Thelma Chalifoux Award is presented annually by NAIT to individuals or organizations that have demonstrated a commitment to Aboriginal 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, who passed away in 2017, was a former Métis elder at NAIT.


Rhonda Dever, recipient of the 2018 Sen. Thelma Chalifoux Award
“I want all of our students to be able to learn about themselves, their culture, and their values, and to feel safe enough to share that with their classmates knowing they will not be judged for sharing their own personal stories. I want our Aboriginal students to share the struggles they and their families have encountered, as that opens the dialogue for our other students to gain a better understanding of how the past has continued to impact so many generations.”

Glenn Feltham, NAIT President and CEO
“This award continues to celebrate the legacy and important impact of Senator Chalifoux at NAIT and in our province and country. I am thrilled to present this year’s award to Rhonda Dever for her commitment to fostering and encouraging Aboriginal culture.”

Morgan Reynolds, student nominator (Bachelor of Business Administration, Management)
“All it takes is one person to believe in you, encourage you and push you to step out of your comfort zone … I couldn’t be more thankful for her, and the work she does to encourage Aboriginal students to explore our culture.”

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 40,000 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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