In November, longtime Prince Albert Catholic School Division trustee and vice chair Maurice Chalifour announced his retirement after serving on the board since 2011.
Chalifour said his personal health and difficulties keeping up with technological changes were the primary reasons he stepped down.
“I am not computer literate and everything is going computerized now, so you have to,” he explained. “The other thing is my health kind of took a downturn and, well, I’m 86 so about a year ago I really started feeling bad. I just thought, ‘well, you know, it’s time to go.’ I have been there for 11 years.”
During his times as a Board member, Chalifour was involved in many initiatives, such as advocating for Catholic Education and local elected representatives as a school board member.
Before becoming a Trustee, Chalifour served for more than 26 years as a classroom teacher and Principal for the Prince Albert Catholic School Division. He received an Appreciation Award from the Saskatchewan Catholic School Board Association on Nov. 13. but could not attend due to his health. Chalifour began his career around 1970 at St. Anne School.
“I was the teacher there for 16 years,” he remembered. “I actually got moved. I got too comfortable because I knew the whole community and they knew me and all that. But then I was appointed principal there.”
Chalifour said that it was tough to pick a great memory from that period because there were so many during his time in the classroom.
“Some kids, you end up changing them so they can be good students and others it just doesn’t work,” he said. “There is no recipe for that because for each kid it’s different.”
Chalifour remembered having 19 First Nation students from the north in a classroom of 42 students.
“It was my first experience at teaching First Nations kids and I had found out that they were kids just like any other kid,” he said. “They just wanted to be treated fairly and they wanted to learn and there was the odd rascal.”
He said that in life as a teacher you take what comes through your door, but he was happy with the experience, which he called very productive.
No matter what happened he tried to keep things fair.
“If kids got into a fight and one is from the city and one is from the north I would find out who was the aggressor, I had to find out the whole story and would act accordingly,” he explained.
“I really enjoyed the classroom. For me, I didn’t really go to work until I started out to become an administrator and then of course you have got more responsibility.”
Dedicated and passionate about Catholic education, Chalifour was also heavily involved in the Toonies for Tuition campaign, raising money for students across Canada who must pay tuition for Catholic education.
He was a member of a committee raising over $500,000 in 2003 for the modernization of the École St Mary High School, and served on the Board’s Audit Committee, the 125th and 130th Anniversary committees, and other special activities representing the Board.
Chalifor was part of a group of people who began fundraising for St. Mary. He said the group and a few other trustees started talking about fundraising and found out they knew nothing about it. The quickly called in outside support, and went on to have a successful campaign.
“We went to Saskatoon and (former trustee) Bert (Provost) phoned the fellow who was in charge of fundraising for the St. Thomas More College. Bert phoned him and he got an appointment,” he explained.
“We touched base with him now and again and he came down a couple of times and the thing was very successful. We raised over half a million dollars for St. Mary’s because of what happened.
“At that time they were renovating St. Mary’s and the department of education for the theatre. They brought the power up to the door but they wouldn’t put any money in for the seats or the stage or anything for the theatre and we wanted to get it finished so we did that.”
The fundraiser was so successful that money was left for things such as a new soccer pitch. He is especially proud of the new theatre that was part of the remodeling.
“They can have the drama plays and they can have fine arts going on and dance and band and so on because it’s a regular theatre,” he said.
Chalifour became a trustee when the former rural trustee who was also a friend and neighbour passed away and Bert Provost asked him to run.
“I guess I have always been very interested in education,” Chalifour said. “I think that education is the key to the future because let’s face it, everything in the future, computers, politics, everything requires people that are educated in many different fields and so to me it’s education and knowledge is the key to the future.”
Chalifour was serving as vice-chairperson of the Board of Education before being replaced by Trustee Pat Hordyski.
The by-election to replace Chalifour has been set for Feb. 6, 2023.