Mary Moonias

Mary Moonias - Image

Bringing traditional Indigenous teachings to the modern classroom

Mary Moonias learned so much from her father and refuses to let his lessons fade away.

As the Resident Elder at NorQuest College’s Wetaskiwin Campus puts it: “My father was a very accepting man, a very cultural man.”

Since September of 2014 the former teacher has carried forth her father’s message – along with a compassionate shoulder and unforgiving stand on the importance of education – to all students at the campus located 80 kilometres south of Edmonton.

“Education is very important,” says the 69-year-old, who holds a bachelor of education from the University of Calgary. “As Aboriginals, we need to be able to make good livings for ourselves and play bigger roles in our communities. And for both Aboriginals and non-Aboriginals, there is a great need to learn to better understand each other.”

The choice to make Moonias NorQuest’s second active Resident Elder was an easy one for college officials to make. For more than 30 years she served as an educator in Maskwacis (formerly Hobbema), teaching elementary and junior high classes. She is exceptionally respected, she is trusted, and she is eager to help.

"I asked them when I came to the college not to put me in the basement. I said, 'put me in the front entrance so people can see me and I can welcome them.'"

The Elder program at NorQuest College was made possible, in part, due to a generous donation from the Edmonton Community Foundation.

Moonias is available to all students at their respective campuses every Thursday.