Trinity Bear remembers Victor Thunderchild as a kind, funny teacher who helped make every class a memorable one for his Carlton Comprehensive Public High School students.
On Monday, Bear was named one of five recipients of the inaugural Thunderchild Legacy Scholarship. She said it was an unexpected moment, but one she appreciated, especially since it helped honour the memory of a teacher who made everyone feel welcome.
“I was in his Grade 10 Cree class, and he taught me so many things,” said Bear, who plans to study business at the University of Saskatchewan this fall. “He was a funny person. Every day in his class was fun for me. There was a new thing every day.”
“I was kind of in disbelief (at being chose) because there were so many people who applied for the scholarship,” she added. “I didn’t think I’d be chosen right way, but I’m honoured to be one of the few.”
Bear wasn’t alone in her observations. Four of the five scholarship winners were on hand to accept their awards during a brief rain-delayed outdoor ceremony. All four said they were grateful for Thunderchild’s warm personally and fantastic sense of humour, but they also appreciated his ability to challenge his students when he thought they were underachieving.
“I remember a Meadow Lake volleyball tournament three years ago where he coached us, and I remember him always getting on me for being a bit lazy,” chuckled scholarship winner Aden Sinoski, who will play volleyball for the University of Brandon Bobcats in the fall. “Then, when I tuned in, he was always happy. He would always ask me how my day was too. He was just a very nice man.”
Sinoski, Bear, and fellow recipients Jaylynne Eninew and Jenna Amyotte were all on hand to accept their scholarships from Thunderchild’s wife Vi. The fifth recipient, Laquanda Young, was unable to attend the ceremony.
Vi Thunderchild said she saw hope for the future in each student, and new Victor would be proud of them, just like she was.
“I’m proud that they’ve gotten this far, and hopefully they will take that extra step to finish,” she said after the ceremony.
Some of Thunderchild’s former colleagues at Carlton began raising money for a scholarship shortly after he passed away. The goal was to give out two $2,000 scholarships a year for the next four or five years.
On Monday, however, Carlton teacher Kelly Klassen said they raised enough money to offer five scholarships in 2021, and three per year for the next few years.