Erica Thompson - Chief Julius School

Year: 2017 – Province: Northwest Territories

Transcript—Erica Thompson Video

[Erica Thompson speaks to camera, with the Parliament buildings as a backdrop behind her]

[Photos of Erica and her students are displayed on screen throughout her interview]

[Upbeat music plays softly in the background]

My name is Erica Thompson. I teach in the Northwest Territories at Chief Julius School, and that's located in Fort McPherson.

[Text on screen: Erica Thompson, Northwest Territories]

I wanted to become a teacher because I had positive teacher role models. Both my parents were teachers. I had some really great teachers. I was able to do my Master's in land-based indigenous education, and that's something that's really, like, a point of passion for me, and I get to practice that every day, and really, like, makes me feel like the luckiest person on Earth.

My presentation was about connecting aboriginal youth through the land to the curriculum that we do in the classroom. The highlight from that project was that, by enabling kids to see themselves as leaders and also valuing their cultural identities, that they will build the resilience skills needed to face challenges head-on.

Winning this award makes me feel humble.

[Video footage of Erica receiving her award from Justin Trudeau is intercut]

It is probably one of the biggest honours that, for me, I've ever received in my – in my young career.

I think that if I could give advice to teachers coming out in the field, would be to really spend time getting to know your audience – that's your kids – and have that kind of face-to-face time with them and be able to have those conversations around what they – what they want to get better at, what they're good at already, and how you can help them.

Student: Erica has taught me a lesson of believing in myself and never give up, and knowing that we could do anything in the world.

[Canada wordmark]

[Music ends]

Certificate of Excellence Recipient

Erica Thompson

Chief Julius School
P.O. Box 26
Fort McPherson, Northwest Territories  X0E 0J0

Principal: Shirley Snowshoe
School telephone: 867-952-2131
School website:

Subjects and grades taught: Grades 8 to 12, Language Arts, Visual Arts

With teaching experience in both Nunavut and the Northwest Territories, Erica Thompson has chosen to make her home in Canada's Arctic. She weaves the importance of community traditions throughout practical learning, celebrates individual talents, instils leadership and builds resiliency –an example of this was on a Caribou hunt led by Elders where students learn about both traditional food sources and body systems.

Teaching approach

A background in feminist literature and Indigenous land-based education guide Thompson's interactions. She creates problem-solving activities while honoring and validating the knowledge of the community in order to reach curricular outcomes and foster a spirit of reciprocity among her students and their families.

Outstanding achievements

  • Students are encouraged to develop deeper connections to their culture as they discover and draw their own spirit animal through family interviews. Thompson organizes an annual community Art Walk to showcase this student art work.
  • Connects her classroom to the community through work experience classes, partnerships with local government, weekly radio shows, photography classes with a local photographer, and a Girl Power skills workshop at the youth center.
  • In a Powerful Women Project, Thompson inspired students to explore the strong women in their lives providing support, and encourage them by discovering texts written by Indigenous female authors.
  • Initiates and leads extra-curricular activities like photography and digital media clubs, tours to Europe, and serving as a snowshoe coach for Team NWT at the Arctic Games in Greenland.

Rave reviews

"Her consistent expectation that the students use technology as a tool is enhancing their knowledge of how best to engage in the realities of the cyber environment to which they must become accustomed."


"With Erica, you know that you will receive an honest and passionate response regarding our profession. She exemplifies in a very humble way the definition of a master teacher, a mentor, and a role model for all teachers who come to know her and work with her."

Supervisor of Schools