Tribute Award for Partnership
In 2016, Elizabeth Gunner retired as a school principal in Moose Factory. A new chapter in her career was about to start.
Elizabeth was approached to see if she would be interested in
collaborating with the Cochrane Temiskaming Children’s Treatment Centre
and Mushkegowuk’s Omushkego Education to lead the development of a new
provincial initiative to support children and youth with disabilities.
Elizabeth made an incredible impact. In her newly created role as
Community Relations Coordinator, she facilitated the genesis of the
James Bay Special Needs Services System Planning Table, which is called
MaMouPiMoTaTaa –Together We Walk. Elizabeth met with community Elders to
explain the intent of the work and seek guidance on a name that would
meaningfully represent the purpose. Not only has Elizabeth’s guidance,
presence and contributions brought the voice and perspectives of
Indigenous families to multiple service providers, her deep excitement
of possibilities has created several innovations.
Among her achievements, Elizabeth was instrumental in helping to
develop an adaptation of the speech and language program called Moe the
Mouse, which was specific to Cree-speaking children. She led the
roll-out of a universal Handwriting Without Tears program in James Bay
area schools, was an active participant in the development of a newly
created Pediatric Indigenous Rehab Assistant post-secondary program,
bridged information technology for families through creating an iPad
loan program where tablets are loaded with various programs and apps to
support learning, and organized multiple parent gatherings where service
providers shared information with families and families shared their
stories and their needs.
Not one to shy away from challenges, Elizabeth has graciously
navigated and balanced the multiple elements in building relationships
and networks so that sustainable child development sector services can
be provided to children and their families. Her strong commitment to do
the right thing has served as a beacon for many.
In everything she does, Elizabeth is a connector, listener, guide,
mentor, voice, questioner, supporter, responder, Elder, educator, and a
determined advocate for equitable and meaningful supports to Indigenous
children, their families and their communities. Elizabeth’s work
continues today—she laid such a strong foundation that multiple
components of the distant vision set seven years ago are now a reality
that will continue to grow.
“Sometimes,” wrote a colleague, “you do not see the impact a person
has had until time has passed and you reflect back and realize the
significant contribution that person has made in the lives of children.
That person is Elizabeth Gunner.”
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