Hull Services awards first Piitaasaapii Hull Services Indigenous Leadership Scholarship

Submitted on Saturday, 01/18/2020 - 7:13 am

Derek Falkowsky with Hull Services’ Executive Director, Julie Kerr

George Ghitan was the Executive Director at Hull Services for 22 years and, during his tenure, provided strong, visionary leadership that helped Hull establish its reputation of excellence in providing leading edge clinical services. A key factor in Hull’s success was the high value that he placed on recruiting and retaining highly skilled, knowledgeable staff, supporting their ongoing education, and investing in developing strong leaders.

Another hallmark of George’s leadership was his recognition that Hull serves many Indigenous children, youth and families, and that doing this well requires special attention to cultural needs. To honour George’s vision of what Hull Services can do to enhance and grow to meet the needs of those served and his efforts in support of reconciliation, he was given the Blackfoot name, Piitaasaapii (Eagle Looking).

As Hull’s Executive Director, George consistently articulated and acted upon his clear vision of Hull as an inclusive and equitable organization, looking to a future where Indigenous and non-Indigenous people can work together to support children, youth and families to live free from the impacts of behavioural and mental health challenges.

At the time of George’s retirement, Mike Morin (former Hull Services Board Chair) and his wife, Barb, established an endowment within the Hull Foundation with the annual proceeds of the endowment funding a scholarship: the Piitaasaapii Hull Services Indigenous Leadership Scholarship, named in honour of George. This scholarship is presented annually to an Indigenous Hull employee to support their post-secondary and graduate level education and leadership development training to prepare them for leadership opportunities at Hull, the Child and Youth serving sector, and their communities.

Hull Services is proud to present Derek Falkowsky with the first Piitaasaapii Hull Services Indigenous Leadership Scholarship.

Derek has been committed to supporting children, youth and families who struggle with mental health challenges for a number of years. He has been working at Hull for almost two years in various programs including Stepping Stones, Secure Services and PcHAD. For the last year, he has dedicated his time to the Reflections program.

Derek is very highly regarded by his colleagues in the Reflections program. According to Stephanie Nikolaou, Level III Counsellor from Reflections, everyone from Safe Directions speaks very highly of Derek and appreciate his skill set. “Derek has a great sense of humor, calm demeanor, and is a strong team player. He is open and willing to do whatever and go wherever he is asked to help support the program”, said Nikolaou.

Derek is currently pursuing his dream of completing his bachelor’s degree in social work and is excited to be graduating from the University of Calgary in April 2020. For Derek, this scholarship means he is able to continue to pursue his dreams with minimal debt and not being financially dependent on the government with student loans.

The bachelor’s degree is not the end of Derek’s academic journey. According to Derek, “Once I graduate, I will continue to work at Hull Services and I really want to apply for my master’s degree in clinical social work so that I can one day be in a clinical role.”

Congratulations, Derek and we look forward to seeing the work you do at Hull and in the community continue to grow and advance.