NORTEP grads community role models
- Linda Mikolayenko | October 20, 2016
When Honey Bernatchez first met her husband, Devin, he was a second-year student in the Northern Teacher Education Program (NORTEP). Several years later, Honey followed in his footsteps and also enrolled in NORTEP. Although neither currently works as a teacher, the couple are both making positive contributions to their community.
“I learned a lot from my peers at NORTEP,” says Devin, particularly when it came to strategies about helping northern youth.
Giving back is important to Devin. Because the Lac La Ronge Indian Band (LLRIB) supported him in his education, he made a commitment to teach at Senator Myles Venne School for five years, where he was involved in coaching teams in almost every sport.
As a youth, Devin played a lot of hockey, including a year with the La Ronge Ice Wolves. Since 2005, he has shared his passion for the game by coaching.
“Devin is, without a doubt, a great asset to our minor hockey association,” says Kevin Roberts, president of the Jonas Roberts Memorial Community Centre Minor Hockey Association. “His passion is evident when he goes far and above your average parent volunteer as coach, manager, chaperone and minor hockey league executive. He tirelessly puts in extra hours, season after season, to ensure a minor hockey player’s experience is full of fun, skill development and building good young people.”
This season, Devin’s nine-year-old son, Dade, will be on the Atom team he coaches, and Devin anticipates, that with the resurrection of the North Central Minor Hockey League, they will play up to 65 games.
Both Devin and Honey believe in keeping their son busy, and try to be good role models for him, but also acknowledge that they are role models for each other. They live in Sucker River where Honey grew up, and have an outdoor skating rink. Honey is also an active runner and swimmer, and loves to golf.
“She props me off the couch, too, to get active,” says Devin. “She’s a motivator for me.”
Honey taught at Chief Moses Ratt School in Sucker River for two years, but since January, she has been an Outreach Worker with the Piwapin Women’s Centre in La Ronge. In that capacity, she gives presentations, works in suicide prevention, and supports clients who leave the shelter.
“She’s easy to talk to,” says Piwapin’s Executive Director, Karen Sanderson.
This is a quality that serves her well in an initiative known as the Little Kokums Club, where twice a week, different generations gather to socialize, do crafts and share refreshments. As the leader, Honey sees her role as making sure the participants are safe and comfortable. She engages them by asking for their ideas and taking advantage of their skills.
“There’s lots of laughs, and lots of learning,” says Honey.
For the past three years, Devin has been the Constituency Assistant to MLA Doyle Vermette. Both he and Honey expect that they will go back to teaching someday, but, in the meantime, in their varied endeavours, they are making a difference and gaining experiences that will serve them well when they return to the classroom.