A name etched in my memory forever for so many reasons

Sask Bulletin
May 19, 2021

Victor Thunderchild.

Even though occasionally my mind takes a holiday when it comes to remembering names; I can say with 100 percent certainty (God willing) that I will never forget the name. For a multitude of reasons.

As the first educator to have succumbed to COVID-19, Thunderchild will no longer be around Prince Albert Carlton High School where he had been such an integral part for nearly three decades.

It’s important to clear a few things up from this end. It has always been with great reluctance that at the Saskatchewan Bulletin we contemplate any sort of obituary when a member of the education community passes away. Not because, in many cases, the individuals haven’t done great things, but where do you draw the line? There’s always the risk of overlooking someone.

Somehow there is something so profoundly different about this scenario. The incredible number of heartfelt tributes from family members, colleagues, current students and former students encapsulated what this man had meant to so many lives whom he touched.

It wasn’t just in the classroom as a guidance counsellor but also as a coach and an active member and advocate for Indigenous youth. By no means is he unique in that sense, for I have been privileged to have interviewed and profiled many of his brethren who also have been inspirational role models for Indigenous youth in our province and beyond.

For fear of unintentionally forgetting someone I’m not going to name these folks specifically, but just know that your stories have served as moving and inspirational when the interviews were finished–and in many cases these folks would intermittently come back into my orbit simply because they did such yeoman service in a number of ways.

So now we come to my own remorse in this saga. Victor Thunderchild was involved in so many Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation events, not the least of which was the Annual Meeting of Council–which as it poignantly turns out was held just days after his unfortunate passing.

While I had brief conversations with Victor Thunderchild over the years, somehow my supposedly keen, intuitive journalism instincts let me down badly in not having done an in-depth feature on an obviously deserving individual. My only possible explanation is that despite his physical stature, Victor Thunderchild was such a humble individual that he was never looking for the spotlight or anything of the sort. I truly am saddened by the fact I never reached out to share his story and now I won’t have that opportunity. Definitely my bad.

After a lengthy wait, teachers are now in the vaccine queue. So if his legacy and lasting influence wasn’t already ensured, now there is another reason to remember the name Victor Thunderchild as the catalyst for change.

Victor Thunderchild. A life to be celebrated. A death that didn’t need to happen.