June 23, 2013 - A respected Elder and lifetime member and resident of Wikwemikong Unceded Reserve on Manitoulin Island, Rita Corbiere has been named the recipient of Laurentian University’s 2013 Mnaaj'in Gechi-wiidookang Nishnaabe-Gchi-Kinoomaagziwin,” the Native Education Person of Distinction Award.
Ms. Corbiere was given the honour at a ceremony celebrating National Aboriginal Day on June 21st at Laurentian University.
A lifelong educator, Rita Corbiere worked for 40 years as an elementary school teacher in Wikwemikong, and for the past decade she has worked as a research collaborator with several Aboriginal health research projects in the community. She also serves her community as an Elder. Ms. Corbiere is a survivor of the residential school system, having spent 5 years attending the Spanish Residential School.
“Throughout a working lifetime, Rita Corbiere has demonstrated her passion and her commitment to educating future generations in her community of Wikwemikong,” said Acting Vice-President and Provost, Dr. Sheila Cote-Meek. “She has been a role model to young people through her achievements in teaching, community education, research and mentorship.”
As a classroom teacher, Ms. Corbiere incorporated Anishinaabe experiences and ways of knowing in her lessons, thus providing culturally relevant education. She has taught in various grades from 3 to 8 and served seven years as a principal. After retiring in 1996, she continued her work in education, serving as an advisor the Wikwemikong Board of Education's Anishinaabemowin curriculum committee. As well, she has served on the Wikwemikong Heritage Organization's community history committee, and is a member of the Kina Gbezhgomi Aboriginal child youth and family welfare advisory group.
Rita Corbiere has a BA in Native and Environmental Studies from Laurentian University and a BEd from the North Bay Teachers’ College.