Michael Way Skinner to be honoured by the Harmony Movement

MichaelThe York Catholic District School Board congratulates Michael Way Skinner, Coordinator of Religious Education, Family Life and Equity for being recognized with the Mary A. Samuel Harmony Leadership in Education Award by the Harmony Movement.

The Mary A. Samuel Harmony Leadership in Education Award is presented to an educator who is in an administrative, or research/academia role, who has exemplary achievements in promoting diversity in their school/board and community. Michael Way Skinner will be honoured by the Harmony Movement Gala Dinner on November 13, 2014.

Below is a profile on Michael Way Skinner written by Martina Smith, Program Consultant: Religious Education/Family Life/Equity.

The Harmony Movement’s mandate is to provide diversity and equity education programs that empower and inspire youth and educators to develop an equity lens, empathy, respect, and leadership skills in nurturing agents for social change. The York Catholic District School Board’s Coordinator of Religious Education, Family Life and Equity, Michael Way Skinner, epitomizes these character traits and this philosophy. Michael has led the way in creating a climate of welcome and inclusion for all.

A pioneer in the province on diversity, equity and inclusion, Michael was the lead writer for “All God’s Children,” a resource providing pastoral support to LGBTQ students. Michael’s work with the LGBTQ community is widely recognized and in 2013, the Catholic Association of Lesbian and Gay Ministries invited him to speak at their annual conference.

Michael’s mantra is to ensure that those on the margins are included. His First Nations heritage provided him with a unique sensitivity and perspective about the realities of First Nations peoples. His own family represents a rich diversity of races, cultures, and abilities. Together with his wife Christine, they are parents to five diverse children with varying degrees of special needs. Both Michael and Christine have a deep and abiding understanding of strategies that support family and student well-being and that celebrate children with special needs.

In addition to his frequent presentations to our Board’s Special Education and Accessibility Committee, he has presented at the Religious Education Congress in Los Angeles, with 40,000 participants. In 2007, he was awarded the Canadian Society of Yad Vashem’s Merit Award of Excellence for Holocaust Education.

Michael is a modern day prophet. An expression commonly used to describe a prophet’s ministry is that “they comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” This is an expression that embodies Michael’s essence. He is strongly committed to fostering courageous, but respectful conversations at all times as he insists that “love, not anger, brings change in people.”

A passionate and spirited advocate of equity opportunities, Michael’s leadership has made a significant impact on the lives of so many in our York Catholic community. Congratulations to a mentor, colleague and dear friend on this well-deserved award.