Sask. guidance counsellor dies of COVID-19 after calling on province to get teachers vaccinated
SASKATOON -- Victor Thunderchild, a well-loved and respected guidance counsellor at Prince Albert’s Carlton Comprehensive, died Saturday morning after contracting COVID-19.
His brother, Harvey, said Thunderchild contracted the infection from a co-worker two-and-a-half weeks ago.
“I still can’t believe it, just two days ago, I spoke with him,” he told CTV News.
Harvey says he's received close to 500 responses since the announcement of Thunderchild's death.
"That’s how connected he was to the communities across Saskatchewan."
Thunderchild 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.
He called on Premier Scott Moe to consider teachers essential workers and urged him to get teachers vaccinated.
“He doesn’t want anybody else to go through what he went through and therefore, what we are going through right now as a family,” said Renee, Thunderchild’s daughter.
Patrick Maze, president of the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation (STF), said Thunderchild was a visionary leader and a great person to call a friend.
Maze said he hopes this sends a message that more protection is needed for not only teachers, but other front-line workers.
“A huge loss to the Prince Albert Community, a loss to Saskatchewan and sadly it could have been preventable,” he said.
Jeff Court, the principal of Carlton Comprehensive, said he is “heartbroken” to hear of Thunderchild’s passing.
“Our condolences go out to his family, friends and every heart that he touched. Victor was a staple in our school/community and will be missed immensely,” he said in a statement to CTV News.
Saskatchewan Rivers Public School Division, which oversees Carlton Comprehensive, is also offering its condolences.
“Victor was a much-loved teacher and counsellor at Carlton Comprehensive public High School for 29 years; he was a leader and supporter of many division-wide efforts and was an integral part of the wider community as well. He will be deeply missed,” Director of Education Robert Bratvold said in a statement.
Community Building Youth Futures (CBYF) Prince Albert has launched an initiative called #ApplesForVictor, asking people to hang the following poster or paint an apple and feather on their window since people are unable to gather due to COVID-19.
Renee has a message for Moe following her father’s death.
"Please don't let this happen to anybody else. This is one of the worst things that could have happened to us," she said.
Harvey says his brother had already spoken with his wife and kids about instructions for a funeral in case something happened. Harvey is organizing arrangements for his brother’s funeral and said his body will be brought home on Monday for a funeral at Thunderchild First Nation.