HPE Grade 5 student wins Indigenous Student Award

Hali Auger shows the certificate she won while wrapped in her special star blanket. She also received $300 cash.

Chris Clegg
South Peace News

Given her very shy nature, Hali Auger thinks she’s done nothing special.

Many would beg to disagree.

Auger, a Grade 5 High Prairie Elementary School student, was one of 12 winners [204 were nominated] of the 2021 Honouring Spirit: Indigenous Student Award announced June 21.

“I felt kind of surprised I won,” she says.

Auger, 11, wasn’t even told she was nominated for the award, which recognizes recognize First Nations, Métis and Inuit students who model strength and commitment in the pursuit of their personal education paths.

Auger’s teacher, Charlene Porisky, nominated her for the award.

“I’ve gotten to see first-hand how proud Hali is to be Indigenous. At the beginning of the year, students were asked to create a symbol that represents who they are. With an abundance of pride, Hali got to work creating a beautiful symbol that showcases her Indigenous roots.”

Auger created a unique symbol with a medicine wheel. She took each section of the wheel and applied it to areas of her life in a symbolic form.

She also shared hunting stories and traditional knowledge with classmates at land-based learning opportunities.

“She partakes in fish scale art, Metis dot art, and an abundance of other activities that showcase the beauty in her culture,” says Porisky.

Auger’s caring and passionate side caught her teacher’s attention during one Art class.

“A classmate began to quietly shed tears and was struggling to hide her sadness from the rest of the class. This classmate had lost confidence in her artistic ability and was quite hard on herself. Hali noticed that this young lady was struggling to believe in herself. When it came time to showcase all the art pieces, Hali asked me if she could give a positive shout out to a student in class. Hali then stood up from her chair, and with poise, she addressed her classmates. She then began to point out all the beautiful details of her sad classmate’s art piece.

“She’s a natural leader who has a heart that can change the world,” says Porisky.

Early in the school year, Auger entered an art contest that showed support for Alberta Health Services front line workers.

“Her work demonstrates the emergence of a strong voice by showing the sacrifices that are made for the well-being of others. In one part of her work, she shows a nurse down on one knee with open arms reaching toward those requiring help.”

Auger won the contest.

The Indigenous award celebrates the unique qualities of students who inspire their peers, teachers, education leaders and community members while celebrating the ways of their people.

Each student embraces their own gifts, strengths and potential, respecting other students to do the same in their own ways.

“Hali is an incredibly intelligent young lady and her report card marks reflect that,” says Porisky.

“She stands tall and is steady in her love of who she is, and I am honoured to have been able to learn with and beside her this year,” she concludes.

Celebrated each year, students like Auger are nominated by members of their education community based on their exemplary leadership, honour, courage and commitment to their education paths.

Nominees must attend a school in Alberta, either operated by an Alberta School Boards Association member, or a First Nations school.

Four winners are chosen from each Alberta region: North, Central and South. Grade categories include K-Grade 3; Grade 4-6; Grade 7-9; and Grade 10-12.

Auger is the daughter of Jade and Calvin Auger of High Prairie.

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