Nova Scotia

Mi'kmaw education authority to receive GG's Innovation Award

Blaire Gould, executive director for Mi'kmaw Kina'matnewey, is not surprised Nova Scotia's Indigenous education authority is among a group of high-tech innovators set to receive an award from the Governor General's Rideau Hall Foundation.

'It's always been a really big emphasis on doing things differently'

Blaire Gould is executive director of Mi'kmaw Kina'matnewey, the Indigenous education authority for 13 schools in Nova Scotia. (Submitted by Mi'kmaw Kina'matnewey)

The Indigenous education authority in Nova Scotia is getting a Governor General's innovation award for its approach to schooling.

The distinction comes alongside researchers who are getting awards for using artificial intelligence in wound care, manufacturing smart construction materials and using 3D printers to make medical gear.

Blaire Gould, executive director for Mi'kmaw Kina'matnewey, which oversees 13 schools in 12 communities across the province, is not surprised the education authority is being grouped with high-tech innovators.

"Artificial intelligence and 3D printing is no stranger to Mi'kmaw Kina'matnewey students," she said. "We provide those opportunities to our schools and to our children so they are the leaders of tomorrow, so they have all of the best technologies and innovations available to them."

Gould said MK, as it's known, has spent more than 20 years taking an innovative approach to education.

"It's always been a really big emphasis on doing things differently and not being afraid to do things differently," she said.

The students get a top-notch education, but are grounded in their own identity.

Language, culture 'always a big part' of innovation

"Language and culture was always a big part of that and needing to adapt to the today learner has always pushed language to be very innovative to reach and to interest the minds of speakers over the years and students over the years," Gould said.

The graduation rate among MK students is more than 90 per cent, she said, indicating the success of the organization's approach.

The Rideau Hall Foundation, which hands out the awards annually, said in its announcement that the graduation rate exceeds national averages in Canada, on and off reserve.

Due to the pandemic, the awards will be officially handed out during a virtual event May 20.

Other award winners include:

  • Dr. Sheila Wang of Swift Medical for creation of artificial intelligence-driven wound care.
  • Dr. Jackie Dawson, Dr. Natalie Carter, Natashia Simonee and Shirley Tagalik for integrating traditional Inuit knowledge and western science to direct Arctic shipping and protect marine areas.
  • Dr. Xiaoyi Bao for creating optical fibre-based sensors that can be installed in construction materials to detect stress and cracks.
  • Dr. James Robar for integrating 3D printing to make devices for cancer treatment.
  • Drs. Geoffrey T. Fong, David Hammond and Mary E. Thompson at the University of Waterloo for research on policies to control tobacco use.



Tom Ayers


Tom Ayers has been a reporter and editor for 36 years. He has spent half of them covering Cape Breton and Nova Scotia stories. You can reach him at