Gobeil resigns from trustee role
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Another trustee has resigned from the Brandon school board, making his resignation the second within the last month.
Toward the end of this week’s board meeting, which took place Tuesday evening and early Wednesday morning, Jason Gobeil announced his resignation effective May 31 as he prepares for a new job outside of Brandon.
“I’ve accepted a new career opportunity with Ducks Unlimited Canada. I’ll be going up north full-time to The Pas to start the position of conservation project specialist,” Gobeil said at the meeting.
Gobeil holds one of eight trustee positions in Ward 1, which represents schools located within the city of Brandon. He was first elected to the Brandon school board in a November 2020 byelection and was returned to office in last October’s municipal election.
Prior to being a trustee, Gobeil was also the community co-ordinator for the Brandon Urban Aboriginal Peoples’ Council and a member of the school division’s Indigenous education advisory committee.
Gobeil’s decision follows the resignation of Caroline Cramer, which was announced at the May 8 board meeting. Cramer’s notice came into effect May 1.
Acclaimed in last year’s election, Cramer was the sole trustee for Ward 2, which represents division schools located outside of Brandon in the Rural Municipality of Alexander, CFB Shilo and Spring Valley Colony.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Gobeil thanked the community for the opportunity to serve on the board of trustees.
“I think of opportunities like this, and I think of my grandmother, who was a residential school survivor, and how she looks down on me and sees what I’ve been able to do with my voice,” he said.
“We often look at our kids and their gifts and we nurture them and support them. This has given me every opportunity not just to do that for my community, but to be a strong role model for my children.”
After speaking, Gobeil took out a drum and sang a song in Dakota with a fellow member of the Ohitika/Ogichidaa (Warrior) Wellness Men’s Group.
In a Wednesday phone interview with the Sun, Gobeil said the song was called “Pidamaye,” which means “thank you.”
His work on the division’s Indigenous advisory committee started around 2015, when the Truth and Reconciliation Commission released its calls to action.
Part of his goal in working around education, he said, was to use his position to promote truth and reconciliation after hearing about the experiences of those who attended residential schools.
“Having the chance to sit at an education table and witness change and be a part of a voice within that change meant a lot to me and it meant a lot in representing not only our Indigenous community, but our community as a whole.”
Being an elected official “is not an easy step,” but Gobeil said he hopes the next trustees who join the board keep an open mind to change.
He was happy to witness the events that took place at Tuesday’s board meeting, where most trustees — including Gobeil — voted against a proposal to review and possibly ban books with LGBTQ+ content from division libraries.
In the leadup to Tuesday’s meeting, he said, it became evident it was going to be a momentous occasion for Brandon.
“It was truly beautiful to see, to witness, to hear and be a part of history in the making,” Gobeil said.
When running for the board, Gobeil said, he thought he was going to be in it for the long haul because of his dedication to the community and to education.
“But sometimes in life, careers and job developments open up new doors and take us new places,” he said. “Unfortunately, this new opportunity with Ducks Unlimited Canada opened up a door for me to work with them and to continue to do what I do best, which is build relationships.”
Fellow trustee Kim Fallis said the board accepted his resignation with regret and thanked Gobeil for always bringing his perspective to their table.
“I also want to wish Jason all the best in the great new opportunity he has before him,” school board chair Linda Ross said. “But we are going to miss you.”
The Sun was unable to reach Ross for comment Wednesday. Earlier this month, Ross said she was unsure of when the byelection to fill the vacancy left by Cramer would be called.
» Twitter: @ColinSlark