Coveted $1M prize for world’s best teacher goes to N.S. woman working with Inuit in remote Quebec village
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Maggie MacDonnell had taught in Botswana, Tanzania and Congo, but had never seen anything like what she experienced in Salluit, Que., when she began teaching there six years ago.
“The memory that continues to haunt me is when I see these Canadian teenagers, their very own classmates of the deceased, literally digging the grave,” she said in an interview. “I didn’t know until I came to Salluit that that was a Canadian reality.”
Drug use and alcoholism rates are high in Salluit. The tiny Inuit community witnessed six suicides in 2015, all involving males between the ages of 18 and 25.
MacDonnell, a native of tiny Afton, N.S, won the $1-million Global Teacher Prize Sunday, probably the world’s most-coveted and high-profile award for teaching excellence. She was awarded the prize during a ceremony in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, beating out about 20,000 applicants from around the world.
The prize was established three years ago to recognize one exceptional teacher a year who has made an outstanding contribution to the profession, employs innovative classroom practices and encourages others to join the teaching profession.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau offered his congratulations in a video message that was broadcast at the event.
“You have done extraordinary things in exceptional circumstances and have showed enormous heart, will and imagination,” said Trudeau, a former teacher himself.