Newly named schools honour UAlberta educators

Three educators and advocates with UAlberta connections receive fitting honour from Edmonton Public School Board.


(Edmonton) Three new Edmonton schools are taking their names from passionate educators and advocates with strong connections to the University of Alberta.

Michael Phair, Ivor Dent and Margaret-Ann Armour are among five honourees announced June 23 by the Edmonton Public School Board, whose names and exemplary contributions to the community will serve as an inspiration for students and teachers at the new schools.

Michael Phair: Activist at the forefront

Michael Phair, a former city councillor who was the first openly gay elected official in Alberta and is now an adjunct professor at the U of A, is the namesake of a junior high school in one of the city’s newest neighbourhoods, Webber Greens.

“Michael Phair has brought years of advocacy experience on both a personal and governance level to the work we are doing here at the Institute for Sexual Minority Studies and Services,” says Fern Snart, dean of the Faculty of Education. “It is a pleasure to see him honoured in such a meaningful way, just as it is always a pleasure to work with him, and learn from him."

Phair, a longtime activist for LGBTQ issues, founded HIV Edmonton in 1984. He also served as a board member with Homeward Trust Edmonton, a non-profit organization that uses a community-based approach toward the goal of ending homelessness in Edmonton.

The Edmonton Queer History Project has also benefited from the knowledge and connections Phair brings to the table. The Art Gallery of Alberta is currently exhibiting many personal artifacts and photos as part of the project until June 21, 2015.

Ivor Dent: Teacher and mayor

A replacement school in the Rundle Heights neighbourhood will take its name from the late Ivor Dent, U of A alumnus and mayor of Edmonton from 1968 to 1974.

Dent, who earned a bachelor of education and a master’s in administration from the U of A, was a respected educator for a dozen years before turning to civic politics. After serving as mayor, he finished his teaching career in 1980 as the principal of Rundle Elementary School. He was admitted as a member in the Order of Canada in 1984. Ivor Dent succumbed to Alzheimer’s in 2009.

Margaret-Ann Armour: Advocate for women in science

Chemist and associate dean of science Margaret-Ann Armour will be honoured as the namesake of a 600-student school in the new neighbourhood of Ambleside.

Armour is well known for her work in bringing more women to science, and was named one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women in 2010. She is the head of Women in Scholarship, Engineering, Science & Technology (WISEST)—a group at the U of A that has dedicated more than 30 years to empowering women in the fields of science, engineering and technology.

Through WISEST, Armour actively reaches out to female students in grades 6 to 12, in both urban and rural settings. “I want kids to have fun with science,” she says. “That’s what keeps them interested.”

Armour received an honorary degree from the U of A in 2013.

Also honoured by the public school board were Nellie Carlson, an activist for equal rights for Aboriginal women and children, and Roberta MacAdams, one of Canada’s first female MLAs and the first woman in the British Empire to introduce and pass a bill.