ATA News

Elder receives education award

Wanda First Rider

A woman known for her dedication to advocating for Indigenous students is the recipient of the ATA’s 2024 Public Education Award. 

Wanda First Rider, an Elder representing Treaty 7 from the Blackfoot Confederacy, earned the award in recognition of her contributions to Indigenous education and her ability to strengthen relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. 

A residential school Survivor, First Rider accepted the award at the 2024 Annual Representative Assembly, sharing her personal journey and the legacy of residential schools that affected her family for generations. 

“I am proud to say that I’m the first generation of many of our communities who can now say that I’m raising my own children, an opportunity that was taken away from us through colonization,” she said. 

First Rider stressed the ongoing challenges in Indigenous education and the need for educators’ support.

“Education is our tool, but we can’t do it alone,” she said.

First Rider urged educators to understand and support Indigenous students, especially in their early years, to prevent another generation from being left behind. 

“If these students are not reading by the time they’re in Grade 3, we’ve lost another generation,” she said. “And we can’t let that happen again.” ❚