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Tribute Award for Partnership

Elizabeth Gunner

Headshot of Elizabeth GunnerIn 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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