The Global Teacher Prize winner of $1 million is a Canadian woman working with an Inuit community in northern Quebec within the Arctic Circle.
Maggie MacDonnell won the contest by beating out 20,000 other nominees, said CBC News. MacDonnell traveled to Dubai to receive the award on Sunday.
The Global Teacher Prize was established by the Varkey Foundation in Dubai three years ago to underline the importance of educators.
MacDonnell works in Salluit in Quebec, a community that the Varkey Foundation said faces "ongoing struggles after decades of abuse." The foundation said MacDonnell's desire to take on economic and social in equities that face the indigenous community was inspiring.
"It takes a remarkable teacher just to work in such an environment," said the foundation. "But, to do what Maggie has done requires something quite extraordinary, something very special. The key? Turning students from problems in solutions."
MacDonnell helped her students build a fitness center to improve their recreational options, raising the initial $100,000 for the project. She also secured funding to start a community kitchen where the students take meals out to hungry groups.
She also maintains a second-hand store where her students can learn entrepreneurial skills while providing the community with affordable items, said the foundation. The Canadian Press said MacDonnell started a running club to keep kids motivated.
"On three separate occasions I have had students come to thank me for saving their life," MacDonnell said on the foundation's website. "All of them had gone through difficult times when losing friends and family to suicide as well as experiencing other traumas in their life. Each of them had reached out to me in some way when they were battling their own thoughts of suicide."
According to the Canadian Press, MacDonnell said she wanted to start a non-profit that runs environmentally focused programs for northern youth with the $1 million prize.
The other finalists came from China, Jamaica, Kenya, Brazil, Germany, England, Spain, Australia and Pakistan.
© 2017 Newsmax. All rights reserved.