Spreading welcoming atmosphere

Greg Chomut, art teacher at Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School, unveils a Wake the Giant face hole painting at the Thunder Bay International Airport last year. Chomut has been awarded the Prime Minister’s Award.

A teacher at Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School has been awarded the Prime Minister’s Award.

The award honours elementary and secondary school teachers in all disciplines for their leadership and teaching practices.

“I am completely honoured to be receiving this award,” said Greg Chomut, on Oct. 6.

He was nominated for the award by his colleagues.

“These are all people that I look up . . . as examples of great teachers and I aspire to keep up with them and the great things they are doing,” said Chomut.

He has been a teacher at Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School for 12 years.

It wasn’t a complete surprise, as he was told that he had been nominated by his colleague, Sean Spenrath, earlier this year and that the principal had written a letter in support of the nomination.

He had received a letter in the summer that they were delaying the results due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He later received word from the Prime Minister’s office that he had won the award and that it would be mailed out by Nov. 1.

Chomut said he believes that the award stems from accomplishments including the Wake the Giant movement, and one of his music classes writing a song with Canadian independent band, July Talk.

“It was the whole journey of that which led to it being recorded and being on Spotify and then the students performing it on stage with the band in front of thousands of people at the music festival,” said Chomut.

A news release from the Prime Minister’s office listed a host of Chomut’s teaching accomplishments that included his students’ artwork displayed in airports and as the backdrop for journalist and author Tanya Talaga’s Massey Lectures. Many of the students sold work and consider art as a possible career.

For the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge using paintball equipment, students re-enacted the battle. The grandson of highly decorated First World War soldier Francis Pegahmagabow, an Ojibway sniper, spoke to the students.

A virtual ceremony is to take place, but Chomut said with the pandemic it is kind of a shame because in other years they have had a gala event at the Governor General’s house.

Chomut teaches history and is teaching students online this year because COVID-19 has led to the students remaining in their remote home First Nation communities. He also teaches art and music.

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