Canadian teacher wins $1m global prize in Dubai

Maggie MacDonnell, receives the Global Teacher Prize from Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, in Dubai, on Sunday. (AP)
Updated 20 March 2017
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Canadian teacher wins $1m global prize in Dubai

DUBAI: A Canadian who teaches at a school in a fly-in only village in the Arctic won a $1-million Global Teacher Prize at a ceremony in Dubai on Sunday.
Maggie MacDonnell, praised for “changing the lives of her students and transforming her community,” was among 10 finalists chosen from 20,000 nominations and applications from 179 countries.
She has taught for the past six years in the Inuit village of Salluit, in the Canadian Arctic, which has a high rate of suicide, according to her biography provided by the award organizers.
MacDonnell said she has witnessed over 10 suicides.
“As a teacher, when I come to school the morning after there is an empty desk in that classroom. There is stillness and silence,” she said, fighting back tears.
“Thank you for bringing global attention to them,” she added.
MacDonnell has created a life skills program specifically for girls, in a region where teenage pregnancies are common, with high levels of sexual abuse, according to her biography.
Many teachers leave their posts midway through the academic year due to stress and the harsh conditions endured by the indigenous community.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau congratulated MacDonnell in a video message. “We are all proud of you,” he said.
Speaking to The Associated Press after her win, MacDonnell said she plans to use the prize money to continue helping the community in Salluit by establishing an environmental stewardship program to reconnect youth with many of their cultural traditions.
She said she hopes the award brings attention to the indigenous communities of Canada and “ideally that they be treated with the dignity that they deserve.”
Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum was on hand to present the prize to MacDonnell. Her name was announced by French astronaut Thomas Pesquet in a video message from the International Space Station.
The Nobel-style award was set up three years ago by the Dubai-based Varkey Foundation. The prize is paid in instalments and requires the winner to remain a teacher for at least five years.
Last year, Palestinian teacher Hanan Al-Hroub won the prestigious prize for her innovative approach of using play to counter violent behavior among her students in the West Bank.


Meghan Markle ties the knot — but not with Prince Harry

Updated 44 min 23 sec ago
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Meghan Markle ties the knot — but not with Prince Harry

LOS ANGELES: A little less than a month before her royal wedding to Britain’s Prince Harry, Meghan Markle has said “I do” — on television.
Markle fans who can’t wait until the actress walks down the aisle next month can tune into the seventh season finale of the legal drama “Suits” — which sees Markle’s character Rachel tie the knot with Mike, played by Patrick J. Adams.
“I wanted to marry you from the second I met you,” Mike says in a preview of the episode, to air Wednesday.
“You are the husband I’ve always wanted,” Rachel says, marking a happy ending for the two actors leaving the series.
“We know there’s another wedding on the horizon for Ms. Markle but just seeing her here in all of her bridal resplendence is a fairytale come true,” said the network USA, which airs the series, on its website.
The characters Mike and Rachel had already tried getting married in a previous season — but police arrested the former and thwarted the nuptial plans.
Shortly after announcing her engagement to Prince Harry, the future Duchess, 36, said she would leaving acting to focus on humanitarian work.
Her final appearance on “Suits” — in which she has starred since 2011 — will be a dress rehearsal of sorts for her big day on May 19, when she will marry Prince Harry in a chapel inside Windsor Castle before 600 invited guests.
Another 2,640 people will be welcomed onto the castle grounds.
American, mixed-race and “fiercely independent,” Markle is widely seen as a breath of fresh air for Britain’s royal family.
“I was born and raised in Los Angeles, a California girl who lives by the ethos that most things can be cured with either yoga, the beach, or a few avocados,” she once wrote.
She will be the second American to join the British monarchy after socialite Wallis Simpson — who married King Edward VIII after he abdicated, and like Markle had once divorced prior to marrying royalty.