News Archives: GPRC Charter Student Honoured with PACE Distinguished Achievement Provincial Award
Released: Thursday, June 14th, 2012
In 1966 when the first cohort of students enrolled at the established Grande Prairie Junior College, Dennis Patterson was among them. He succeeded in his studies, and soon transferred to the University of Alberta, and embarked upon a distinguished career in law, politics, and education. In 2009 he was named to the Senate of Canada, and GPRC is highly honoured to have nominated Senator Dennis Patterson who is the recipient of the 2012 PACE Distinguished Achievement Provincial Award.
The announcement at ceremonies in Edmonton June 13th was warmly applauded by attending members of the GPRC Board of Governors and Executive Team, along with members and guests of the Alberta Association of Colleges and Technical Institutes (AACTI) which hosts the awards program. Senator Patterson, who was unable to accept the award in person, expressed his thanks via a videotaped statement. The Provincial Awards Celebrating Achievement (PACE) are held biannually and include the Distinguished Achievement Award and the Outstanding Alumnus Award.
Dennis Patterson is known for his numerous achievements on behalf of the people of Canada's North. He was founding Executive Director of the Maliiganik Tukisiiniakvik Legal Aid Society in Iqaluit. From 1978 to 1995, he served as MLA for Frobisher Bay and Iqaluit, and held the position of NWT Minister of Education, Justice and Municipal Affairs. In 1987 he was chosen as the fifth consensus Government Leader (now Premier) of the Northwest Territories, Canada, and served in that position until 1991.
During his career as a lawyer and as a politician, Dennis Patterson had a huge role in changes which addressed issues of the Canada's north. His efforts eliminated the residential school system and established post-secondary education opportunities within Aboriginal communities. He was involved in the settlement of two historic land claims, including the Inuit land claim that led to the creation of Nunavut in 1999.
As a member of the very first class to attend GPJC (now GPRC) Dennis Patterson became the first ever President of the Students' Association, and drafted a constitution for the student council - an experience he later reflected upon when he was involved with drafting the new Constitution for our country. Senator Patterson was directly involved with clauses defining Aboriginal rights and ensuring their inclusion in the Constitution. On August 27, 2009, Dennis Patterson was named to the Senate of Canada by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
As stated in one of the letters of support for the nomination of Senator Dennis Patterson for the Distinguished Achievement Provincial Award: "Anyone who has known or worked with Senator Patterson will be familiar with the unqualified determination and dedication he brings to the positions he has occupied or the causes which he has championed. He has demonstrated that success in public service requires personal leadership which inspires others to be equally committed."
"GPRC warmly congratulates Senator Dennis Patterson on the occasion of this award," says Don Gnatiuk, President and CEO. "We are honoured that he is an alumnus of our College, and humbled by his enduring interest in the initiatives undertaken by our institution to meet the learning and accessibility needs of Aboriginal students. Dennis Patterson is indeed a great citizen, and a great Canadian."
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