Hay River North
Mr. Speaker, as another school year comes to a close for students across the Northwest Territories, I would like to recognize this year's graduates. Whether they are graduating from kindergarten, high school, or a post-secondary institution like Aurora College, the territory's graduates have a lot to be proud of.
The pandemic has created unprecedented disruptions in every sector of society. The last two years have posed great challenges for residents, with the impacts of COVID-19 taking an emotional, mental and physical toll on the health and well-being of NWT residents, communities, businesses and industries, and these impacts extend to NWT's students and educators.
Mr. Speaker, during the pandemic many educational institutions in the NWT closed their doors for in-person learning with lessons moving online and in-person exchanges replaced with virtual interactions. Teachers had to change the way they taught and students had to change the way they learned. It was a challenging time, Mr. Speaker, and this year's graduates persevered and have shown resiliency and dedication, skills that will help them achieve even more success in the future.
Despite the excitement of graduation, it is important to acknowledge that the impacts of COVID-19 on students and educators are still very real and may be felt for months and years to come. The Department of Education, Culture and Employment has been compiling information on school closures and remote learning to inform future decision-making. We are currently using existing wellness data, referrals for school-based mental health and wellness services, and academic progress reports provided by education bodies to monitor the needs of NWT students and guide future decisions and supports.
While there is not a single solution to the challenges that result from school closures and remote learning, ECE provides support services that can help, including mental wellness counselling through the child and youth care counselling initiative and career and education advising to help our students prepare to take their next life step. In addition, the annual territorial teachers conference this fall will focus on how to best support learning and instruction post-pandemic.
Mr. Speaker, as part of the NWT's graduation ceremonies, in the coming weeks eight deserving individuals will be inducted into the NWT Education Hall of Fame for 2021 and 2022. Reading the nomination letters was a wonderful reminder of the important role that educators play in students' lives and careers. Not only do they equip students with the knowledge and skills they need to pursue their education and career goals, but they also help students build the confidence to dream big and set high expectations for themselves.
Mr. Speaker, pursuing any level of education is never easy, but we do it because it is important. It is important to each of us as individuals, and it is important to all of us as a community. The knowledge and skills we gain through education benefit everyone, and create a stronger and more resilient territory.
Mr. Speaker, congratulations to the graduating class of 2022. Thank you.