On May 14, 2024, nine New Brunswickers were recognized with National Inclusive Education Awards for their exemplary leadership and commitment to inclusive education. This year’s recipients include early learning educators, elementary school teachers, administrators and a parent. The awards are presented annually in partnership with Inclusion Canada, with the recipients being nominated by their peers.

New Brunswick’s recipients of the 2024 National Inclusive Education Awards are:

Vanessa Knapic Baird & Holly Flores work in Early Childcare Management at the SpringRoots Early Learning and Child Care Centre in Fredericton. SpringRoots has welcomed children of many diverse backgrounds as well as children with both physical and intellectual disabilities. Vanessa (Director) and Holly (Manager) have created a safe, warm, and welcoming environment for the children and staff of SpringRoots. Their open and honest communication has created a space where parents are comfortable with having children in their care. Everything they do is centered around the wellbeing of the children in their care. They are true believers that all children have the right to be included.

SpringRoots has previously received a Certificate of Recognition as a champion for cultural diversity and appreciation of their leadership and efforts to include newcomers in their workforce and community. Also, they have recently upgraded their outdoor play area with a paved path to make it accessible for all children to enjoy outside play time.








Dominique Gionet is an Early Childcare Educator at Le Club Des Amis Halte Scolaire in Bathurst. Dominique took the time to understand the needs of a child with a disability, supporting them to make better use of their strengths which has empowered them to thrive in an inclusive environment. When Dominique joined the staff of the Le Club Des Amis Halte Scolaire, this child went from being on the sidelines to actively participating. She has taken the time to educate peers and staff to help improve inclusivity in their childcare centre.

From her parent nominator, “With Dominique’s arrival, she was able to understand and guide him, and now he doesn’t just have friends, he has best friends! We often had to pick him up from daycare because things weren’t going well. Dominique’s impact is easy to measure: we can go to work.”











Heidi Taylor is a teacher at New Maryland Elementary school, located outside Fredericton. Heidi provides individualized programming seamlessly. She makes all students feel valued at all levels. She is a model for inclusion in the school and is often observed by her colleagues to help them see firsthand how they can be more inclusive in the classroom. Because of Heidi, students in her class often spend 100% of the academic day in the classroom because their needs are being met.

A colleague says, “Heidi meets each student where they are, academically, emotionally and developmentally. As students’ needs change, Heidi steps up to the challenge. She provides a safe, positive learning environment for all students and they value the connection she creates in her classroom.”















Matthew Martin is the Anti-Racism Coach for the Anglophone School District – South and the Executive Director for the Black Lives Matter New Brunswick. Matthew has been integral to addressing barriers to inclusion, recognizing all types of ability and diversity in our community. He has facilitated conversations through the ASD-S Anti-Racism Advisory committee to allow learners of diverse racial backgrounds to have their voice heard. He aims to share the experiences of Black students, racialized students with learning disabilities, and newcomer students. Through Matthews’s anti-racism work with ASD-S, he clearly demonstrates exceptional inclusive practices including the creation of safe learning environments, diversifying learning materials, and honouring individual student needs.

Comments from educators who learned from Matthew pointed out that the strategies he is teaching them have helped include all learners.











Dounia Daoud is a dedicated parent of a child with a disability who attends École Saint-Henri in Moncton. She openly shares her story and personal experience to educate others about the importance of diversity and respect for differences. Her presentations help inform attitudes and perceptions towards people with disabilities and are adapted to be accessible to all. Dounia actively encourages questions and discussion to foster better understanding and mutual respect. The staff at École Saint-Henri are also influenced by Dounia’s efforts. By sharing her knowledge and experience, she strengthens the school’s ability to meet the diverse needs of students and create an inclusive learning environment for all.

Her impact extends beyond the school walls to the community at large. She leads presentations and events on inclusion in other community forums, where she raises awareness of inclusion issues among a wide audience and inspires others to get involved in creating more inclusive communities.









Jannah Kyle & Jenn Smith are Early Childcare Educators at the Tiny Treasures Learning Centre in Grand-Bay Westfield. Both Jannah and Jennifer have been dedicated to ensuring a smooth transition into their infant program for a child with Down Syndrome. They continue to commit to all children being included in opportunities to grow and be alongside their peers, and even have attended several physio appointments to ensure the child’s milestones were achieved through appropriate exercise.

Because of Jannah and Jennifer’s dedication to an inclusive learning environment, other educators at the centre have also begun implementing similar techniques in their own classes. Jannah and Jennifer have also been able to take these strategies and ensure all students are included at the centre.












Tinika Marie Lowe is a teacher at Gesner Street Elementary School in Oromocto. Tinika exemplifies dedication to inclusive education and has influenced her entire grade 2 class to participate. In her class, two students with disabilities required additional supports for accessibility and inclusion in the classroom and school. Both Tinika and her students are quick to work together with resolving accessibility issues so that these students are included in classroom activities. Tinika and her students have fostered an environment of acceptance and support ensuring that the students have equal access to all classroom activities, including class field trips.

Tinika emphasizes the importance of inclusivity by educating her students about their classmates’ goals and challenges, fostering empathy and understanding among their peers. Through open communication and a commitment to accessibility, Tinika cultivates a classroom where all students thrive and contribute to each other’s learning experiences.