Physique discovered of man who fell by ice making an attempt to rescue canine on North Saskatchewan River


Family, colleagues mourn beloved teacher who is believed to be the 1st Sask. Educator lost to COVID-19

Victor Thunderchild stared down and overcame racism and stereotypes as he pursued his dream of becoming an educator. The 55-year-old worked at Carlton Comprehensive High School in Prince Albert, Sask., And was passionate about teaching and enabling future generations to thrive. This work was stopped on Saturday morning when Victor died as a result of COVID-19. Now his family is calling on the provincial government to see that teachers are vaccinated to ensure that no other family or ward will experience the loss of someone who cares so much for so many. “Everywhere I turn he’s been teaching someone,” said his wife, Violet Thunderchild. Victor’s students went on to be doctors, lawyers and dentists, she said, noting that some of the nurses who looked after him in his final hours in the hospital were former students of his. “He made a really big difference in this church,” she said. She says Victor, a Cree language advocate and a proud Plains Cree man, was due to retire in 2022, but she said his job was far from over as he wanted to continue teaching after he retired. An intergenerational survivor of the Canadian school system, Victor was a man who came from humble beginnings and was the youngest of 12 children, Violet said. Through his work and dedication, he was the first in his family to graduate, earn a Masters, and use his education to help others. “He walked what he said,” she said of her 33-year-old husband, stressing that he was healthy before contracting COVID-19 and had no underlying health problems. His family believe he contracted COVID-19 while working in high school. Family members say that Victor Thunderchild, a well-known and beloved teacher, touched many lives during his 29-year career and always used education as a tool to empower others. (Victor Thunderchild / Facebook) Violet says while she and Victor had three children of their own, the couple supported numerous adopted children throughout their lives. His daughter Renee says her father was unique and wherever he went he carried himself with pride in the face of adversity. “He was a father’s most perfect person,” she said. “Even if it was a difficult decision, he always made the right decision.” Ryanda, another of Victor’s daughters, says he was always there for his students and helped them support them outside of the classroom. “He was very proud of who he was and he was very proud to be a man of the Plains Cree First Nation … and he always wanted other people to be proud of who they are and not about things Let it get you down and carry on, “she said. “He wanted other young Aborigines to be proud of being indigenous.” Thunderchild’s passion was evident online. His Twitter bio says that education is “the most powerful weapon of all”. While hospitalized with the virus, he continued to fight for his fellow teachers, tweeting directly to Prime Minister Scott Moe, and asking for educators to be vaccinated. “Thank you @PremierScottMoe for not believing we are important contributors as I am sitting at @ PAHealthDept Vic Hospital recovering from COVID-19,” he said in the April 5 tweet that has been hundreds since then Times has been shared. “Get my classmates vaccinated before this happens to anyone else.” On Saturday, CBC News requested an interview with Education Secretary Dustin Duncan for a response to teachers’ vaccination requests but it was not available. The Department of Education sent a statement expressing condolences to the family and loved ones of Thunderchild. “Our thoughts go with the Saskatchewan Rivers School Division community, and particularly with the students Mr. Thunderchild taught and the Carlton Comprehensive High School staff with whom he worked.” It was evident that Thunderchild’s “commitment to helping students was exceptional,” the statement said. While the ministry’s recognized teachers “have put an extraordinary effort into the safety and wellbeing of students” as the province moves through “what will hopefully be the last leg of this pandemic,” its statement does not state that teachers will be prioritized for vaccination anytime soon and instead encouraged teachers to get vaccinated once their age group is eligible. “The school departments in Saskatchewan continue to have regular communication with their local health officers to make appropriate decisions on the ground so that education can continue as safely as possible,” the statement said. “A Bright Light of Friendship” Jen Bear worked with Victor at Carlton Comprehensive and started at school about 20 years ago. She says for her that Victor was an adopted older brother who welcomed her with open arms. “He was so welcoming and friendly and he was always someone who made you feel welcome and part of the community,” she said. “He would take you with him and introduce you as a new member – but also as a new family member. … We were a family straight away,” said Bär. “He was a real role model who always brought a light, a bright light of friendship and happiness.” Victor Thunderchild, who died as a result of COVID-19 on Saturday, can be seen here with his wife Violet. He is remembered as a loving father, husband, and educator who would do anything for his students and his family. (Violet Thunderchild / Facebook) Patrick Maze, president of the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation, said the loss of Victor Thunderchild was right across the province as he was a leader and friend to many. “He’s going to leave a huge hole,” he said. Recalling Thunderchild as an advocate for key workers across the province, Maze found that he was an active figure in the Federation, fighting for his fellow tutors, as well as for the formation of the First Nations and the treaty. This marks the first educator death in the province from COVID-19 that Maze was informed about, he said. Thunderchild’s death brings with it “so many levels” of disappointment as the Teachers’ Association campaigned for educators to be given vaccination priority and to move schools to level 4 under the province’s Safe Schools plan, thereby moving schools more will be distance learning. “Right now we need to focus on ensuring that his family is supported and that all of his colleagues at Carlton and all of his contacts in Prince Albert are supported, but his death could definitely have been prevented,” said Maze. “We have been calling for protective measures for frontline workers across the province, so it is incredibly frustrating,” he said. “Unfortunately our province has lost a really great man.”

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