Grant Gustafson brings a history dating back to before the existence of the Saskatchewan Rivers School Division as a candidate for trustee on Nov. 9. Even after serving in one form or another on Prince Albert school boards for the past 24 years, he feels there is still work to be done.
“I still have enthusiasm and passion for the position and believe that I have a lot to offer the board in the division still,” Gustafson said.
Gustafson served two terms on the Prince Albert Public School board of education between 1991 and 1997 before the first amalgamation and rejoined the board in a by-election in 2002.
“There have been a couple of times that I have held positions on two boards. The early one I was also on the Carlton board. And then through the second amalgamation we actually ran two parallel boards for a while. One was for the new version school division one was for the old version so that had a few months of overlap,” he explained.
He explained that he brings a unique perspective to the board, with more than 24 years as a trustee and 29 years working in mental health. He currently works as general manager of S.H.A.R.E.
“I come from a different background. I appreciate having a high level of former teachers look at it because they do have a real in depth understanding. But for me I have had a different life than everyone else. I know what it is like to not have a lot, to go without,” he said.
Gustafson explained that he lived in farmhouses and lived in uncertain times during the 1980s.
“We have lived uncertainty; we have both been on the farm. I’m a B.C. transplant when I was a little kid; my dad was almost killed in a car accident. We came out here when I was nine years old after that; he was still in a body cast. It changes you, it gives you a real appreciation for the people and for anything you get in life,” Gustafson said.
Gustafson and his family have lived in the West Hill for over 30 years. He has had children go through the Saskatchewan Rivers system and now has grandchildren doing the same.
He explained that working at S.HA.R.E. has given him perspective.
“I always remember my roots. I guess if you were analyzing it, its empathy and compassion,” Gustafson said.
This year will be highly-contested with 11 candidates running for five in city trustee positions. Gustafson was impressed by the qualifications of other candidates.
“We would have a good board no matter who gets in from that list. It would be a bit of a learning curve for the system for trustees. But we are set up for whatever happens,” Gustafson said.
He explained that he believes the job of the board is to support teachers with resources and provide the best education possible for students within the resources available — even in challenging scenarios like the current COVID-19 pandemic.
“I do lose sleep over the current situation and I guess that is because I really care about what I can and I can’t do as a board member,” he said.
Gustafson explained that he served as chairman of four committees during the current sitting of the board. This included the creation of the legacy document which will be used to pass knowledge on to future boards.
“It explains in 2016 until now what are the accomplishments and challenges. It has got the history of the board, it has got a list of all of the board members that we have had and directors. A new person to the board or to the system can look at that and get a really good idea of where we come from, where we are going and what we are all about,” Gustafson said.
“You are always remembered for what you leave behind.”