Abbotsford School District educator Kimberly Sommer travelled to Edmonton last week to receive a national Indigenous role model award from Indspire. Will Cook, Indspire/Submitted photo

Abbotsford School District educator Kimberly Sommer travelled to Edmonton last week to receive a national Indigenous role model award from Indspire. Will Cook, Indspire/Submitted photo

Abbotsford educator receives national Indigenous role model award

Kimberly Sommer travelled to Edmonton last week to receive the Indspire role model award

An Abbotsford educator travelled to Edmonton recently to receive a national Indigenous education award.

Kimberly Sommer, a cultural support worker for the Aboriginal department of the Abbotsford School District, was announced a recipient of the Indspire Role Model award in late August, but travelled to the awards event last week.

“I had such an amazing time at the Indspire conference, art gala and awards ceremony. It was so fun meeting the other 9 recipients. They are all truly amazing people from across Canada. It was a blessing and a once in a lifetime experience I will always cherish,” Sommer said in an Abbotsford School District news release.

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Sommer, whose ancestry is from the Makah Tribe in Neah Bay, Washington, was one of 10 to receive the award at the Guiding the Journey celebration, part of Indspire’s National Gathering for Indigenous Education.

Sommer said one of the reasons given to her for why she received the award was her 25 years of volunteer work at Indigenous camps up north, adding that when a representative of Indspire called to inform her of the award she was at one of those camps.

Sommer, who is in her third year at the Abbotsford School District, added that she helped to bring up the Indigenous graduation rates at the Mission School District in her previous job. Provincial data show that between 2009/10 and 2015/16, Sommer’s time at the district, the Indigenous graduation rate climbed from 50 per cent to 63 per cent, whereas the overall graduation rate had climbed from 80 per cent to 83 per cent.

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In the decade prior to her joining the Mission School District, the Indigenous graduation rate rose from 40 per cent to 50 per cent.

In an interview, Sommer sang praises for the event in Edmonton.

“It was amazing. There were so many teachers for the teachers conference they have every year,” Sommer said. “They had some incredible workshops there. Some truth and reconciliation workshops were happening.”

Sommer took her daughter with her, which meant she couldn’t take advantage of so many workshops, but she said she was thrilled to see her daughter interacting with Indigenous leaders at the event.

“She had some pretty valuable (experiences). She was able to meet with Roberta Jamieson, who’s the CEO and president of Indspire. … She’s the first female Aboriginal lawyer ever in Canada, and my kid, she wants to be a lawyer or she wants to be a doctor of the brain,” Sommer said, adding that Jamieson was able to give Sommer’s daughter “some valuable advice.”

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Dustin Godfrey | Reporter

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