OUTAOUAIS May 19, 2021
Martin Bertrand has been a teacher at École secondaire Sieur de Coulonge (ESSC) for over 20 years, and has contributed to the school in many ways.
He has organized the school’s famous ski trips to Parliament Hill in Ottawa and founded the outdoor education program, where students are able to partake in canoe and camping trips.
He has put numerous hours into the school and its students, and now he is being recognized for it on a regional level.
Bertrand is the Outaouais’s nominee for an award from Forces AVENIR recognizing committed staff members at schools. He was nominated by his colleagues and was chosen to represent the region at the provincial level.
He is one of the three nominees from ESSC up for awards, with Patrick Pépin being nominated for most committed student, and Equipiste, a project which aims to set up repair stations along the PPJ, was awarded for committed project.
“It’s a huge honour,” Betrand said. “Sometimes we get a nominee for one of the categories, last year it was the Ski to Parliament that was nominated. We don’t get nominations every year and this year we have three.”
As the regional winner, he is listed as a silver medalist and was awarded $500.
Bertrand has always tried to provide students at his school with as many opportunities as possible, but it was really in the last eight years that he put a focus on getting kids outdoors and active, learning valuable skills outside of the classroom.
He is proud of his school and the work he’s done there, adding that while outdoor learning and different ways of teaching are “very in right now,” ESSC has been ahead of the game for years and “it’s about time that our region and our school gets recognized for awesome things for our youth.”
“The big thing for me is getting kids active, getting them moving. I don’t want them to sit in front of a computer, I want them to participate and push themselves and learn more about themselves through that,” he said. “The things we do like the Ski to Parliament is all about getting to know yourself and pushing yourself, getting to know your personal fears and going beyond everyday life. It’s life skills.”
In the next step of the competition, Bertrand will have an interview with the judges to determine if he will be given the award, which is usually announced at a big gala in Quebec City in the fall, but was virtual last year. While it is an honour to be recognized, Bertrand said the monetary prize he wins will go right back to the institution he’s so committed to.
“I’m definitely going to find a way to make this a part of something bigger, I don’t know yet,” he said. “Maybe a bursary of some sort for kids to push their personal limits when it comes to the outdoors or any future learnings that are outside the box. That money was given to me, but I’m going to put it towards the kids.
“It’s all about motivating kids; motivating them to stay in school, motivating them to learn something different, to push their boundaries and to do awesome things in our communities,” he added.
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