PRINCE ALBERT -- Victor Thunderchild had knowledge that can’t be learned in a book, former student Carmen Fourstar says.

Thunderchild helped her navigate racism and connected traditional education to Indigenous knowledge, she says. He was also teaching her son Brock, who is in Grade 12.

“It was comforting when I was a teenager to have that classroom to go to, to have that connection with Mr. Thunderchild.”

Thunderchild, a well-loved and respected guidance counsellor at Prince Albert’s Carlton Comprehensive, died Saturday morning after contracting COVID-19.

He was among those in the education community who have been vocal about the need for teachers and other school staff to be higher on the priority list for vaccinations.

On April 5, Thunderchild sent out a tweet from Victoria Hospital in Prince Albert saying he was recovering from COVID-19.

People in the community of Prince Albert are grieving the loss by posting apples on their windows and the social media hashtag #applesforvictor.

A vigil and flowers were laid out on the step of Carlton Comprehensive High School where he taught for 29 years.

Thunderchild would play pow wow music at the start of class as students settled into their desks. Students Brock Fourstar, Brody McLeod and Bronson McLeod performed a drumming tribute on the steps of the school for those grieving and posted it on social media.

Brock Fourstar says he’ll remember Thunderchild’s sense of humour and warm, kind nature.

“Within the school he really influenced a lot within First Nations students and that’s not going to be there anymore. So now, we don’t know how things are going to be,” Fourstar said.

Carlton Comprehensive High School encouraged students and staff to wear ribbon skirts and Montreal Canadiens jerseys in honour of Thunderchild.

In a social media post the school recognized Thunderchild for “all the work he has done to champion First Nations education and truth and reconciliation process in our school community and beyond.”

In the community, Thunderchild danced traditional pow wow, umpired ball games and volunteered at many events.

Paper apples and posters of Thunderchild are on the windows of the high schools, some school buses and homes.

Many people from the community are expressing their condolences with the #applesforvictor profile picture filter and hashtag.

“We did it to bring the community together at this difficult time. And it’s a way to show support for the family when we can’t come together because of the pandemic,” said the creators of the #applesforvictor hashtag who wish to remain anonymous.