Canadian at Arctic school wins $1m teaching prize
A Canadian woman who teaches at a school in an Arctic village that can only be reached by air was awarded the $1m Global Teacher prize in Dubai yesterday.
Maggie MacDonnell, who was praised for “changing the lives of her students and transforming her community”, was chosen from 10 finalists after 20,000 nominations and applications from 179 countries.
She has taught for the past six years in the Inuit village of Salluit, in the Canadian Arctic, which has a high rate of suicide, according to details provided by the award organisers.
MacDonnell said she had faced 10 suicides. “As a teacher, when I come to school the morning after there is an empty desk in that classroom. There is stillness and silence,” she said, fighting back tears. “Thank you for bringing global attention to them.”
MacDonnell has created a life skills programme specifically for girls, in a region where teenage pregnancies are com- mon, with high levels of sexual abuse. Many teachers leave their posts midway through the academic year due to stress and the harsh conditions endured by the indigenous community. MacDonnell has also been a temporary foster parent.
Justin Trudeau, Canada’s prime minister, congratulated MacDonnell via a video clip, saying: “We are all proud of you.”
The Global Teacher prize was set up three years ago by the Dubai-based Varkey Foundation. It is paid in instalments and requires the winner to remain a teacher for at least five years. Last year, Palestinian teacher Hanan al-Hroub won for her innovative approach of using play to counter violent behaviour among her students.
Maggie MacDonnell, who teaches in a remote village in the Canadian Arctic, was praised for setting up a programme to give life skills to Inuit girls