Kenjgewin Teg celebrates students’ achievements at convocation

Graduates, faculty, staff and family and friends participate in a round dance following the graduation. photos by Robin Burridge

M’CHIGEENG—Kenjgewin Teg Educational Institute (KTEI) held its 2016-2017 graduation, celebrating the many achievements of the school’s students throughout the year.

The ceremony began with a procession of the faculty, students and staff to a thanksgiving song by the drum group Genaabaajing JRZ. The opening smudge was accompanied by a song by the Children of Mnidoo Mnising Kinoomaage Gamig.

“This is a day to honour the graduates who have all worked so hard to get here,”

said KTEI Executive Director Stephanie Roy. “The graduates have all showed perseverance and resilience.”

“You have all sacrificed a lot to get here today,” said Deputy Grand Chief of the Union of Ontario Indians, Glen Hare, who also recognized the leadership of the staff.  “There are Seven Grandfather teachings and you must earn every one of them. My number one is respect—for one another and yourself. Unity is also a big one and we see that coming back in a big way; there is no place for racism in this country anymore.”

KTEI high school graduate Rachel Auckland presents a graduate message.

Carrianne Agawa, the KTEI education coordinator, performed an honour song.

There were two graduate messages, with the first from KTEI high school graduate Rachel Auckland.

“It has been a crazy ride for all of us,” said Ms. Auckland. “Coming to KTEI has been great. It has given us the resources to go wherever we want. We stepped out of our bubbles and made new friends. We’ll never forget the people we have meet. To our teachers, thank you to giving us the tools to succeed.”

The second graduate message was from Zareh Oshagan, a graduate of the personal support worker program.

Gerrard Peltier awards graduate Zareh Oshagan with the
Kenjgewin Teg Educational Excellence Award.

“We made it,” Mr. Oshagan began, asking his fellow graduates to stand up and pat themselves on the back. “You as students did a lot more than attending class. Behind the scenes there is life—car trouble, money, bills, not enough time, family—it is a balancing act.”

Mr. Oshagan recognized the innovative learning environment that KTEI offered including elders in residence and traditional teachings.

“The PSW program gave us the tools and methods to support people in need, but the truth is caring for people is easy, what you couldn’t prepare us for is the diversity of the human spirit,” said Mr. Oshagan. “As a caregiver you need to find a way to ground yourself.”

Mr. Oshagan thanked the staff, administration, the board and elders in residence for their support and sharing their knowledge.

Elder Lewis Debassige presents Daughness Migwans with an eagle feather.

“It is customary to give advice in these types of speeches—stop asking and listening to advice from other people, listen to your gut and spirit,” concluded Mr. Oshagan. “Welcome to the real would—I hope your journey takes you to wherever you want to go.”

KTEI instructor Amy Debassige presented the Ontario Secondary School Graduation Diplomas to: Hunter Abotossaway, Cassandra Bisson, Mitchal Payette, Janice Cada and Rachel Auckland.

Shawn Chorney, vice president of enrolment management, Indigenous and Student Services at Canadore Colllege, presented the Personal Support Worker Program certificates to: Breann Corbiere-Madahbee, Cynthia McMaster, Gemma Rice, Gina Courtney, Karol Pickard and Zareh Oshagan.

Mr. Chorney also presented the Business Fundamental Program certificates to: Diane Bebonang, Jeanette Pitawanakwat, Keaton Francis, Katelyn Abel, Mackenzie Panamick and Talon Corbiere.

The Professional Office Skills and Training Program certificates were presented by instructor Sarah Julian and Judy Manitowabi (community based and contract training) to: Candice Corbiere, Daisy Sagon, Fran Taylor, Ingrid Madahbee, Jody Manchester, KC Madahbee, Logan Esquimaux and Mary Coburn.

Instructor Kelly Crawford and Ms. Manitowabi presented the Adult Education Program certificates to: Daughness Migwans, Diane Newlands, Jean Debassige, Natasha Abotossaway and Rebecca Reynolds-Seltzer.

Dr. Peter Chin presented the Aboriginal Teacher Education Program diplomas to Jacinta Shawnda and Miranda Trudeau.

Teaching Immersion, additional qualification certificates were presented to: Eria Bebonang, John-Paul Chalykoff, Patsy Turner and Paul Stone.

KTEI Online Learning Recruitment Officer Gail Cook presented Contact North eLearning graduate Henry Migwans with his certificate.

Daughness Migwans was presented with an eagle feather during the special awards.

The KTEI Excellence Award was presented by Gerrard Peltier, son of the late Sara Peltier, in memory of his mother to Zareh Oshagan.

“The award is presented to a deserving student demonstrating exceptional commitment and dedication to their personal educational goals, serving as an exemplary role model in the KTEI learning environment,” explains the convocation booklet.

The KTEI Embracing Your Education Journey Award, in memoriam of Glen Crawford, was presented by Kelly Crawford to a “deserving graduate, demonstrating a commitment to nurturing their identity and embracing their educational journey.” Ms. Crawford presented the award to Gina Courtney.

The KTEI Educational Leadership Award in honour of founding board member Lewis Debassige was presented by Mr. Debassige to Zareh Oshagan. The award is presented to a deserving student who demonstrates exceptional leadership qualities, serving as an exemplary role model in the KTEI learning environment.

The Aboriginal Institutes Consortium Award was presented to a deserving student and a deserving instructor by KTEI Traditional Knowledge Faculty Members Gloria Oshkabewisens-McGregor and Gordon Waindubence. The instructor award was presented to Kimberly Debassige, while the student award went to Jean Debassige.

The closing remarks were from graduate Henry Migwans.

“KTEI taught me a lot of things,” said Mr. Migwans. “It was a place to grow and learn. I want to congratulate all the graduates today—we did it.”

The convocation concluded with an honour song by Genaabaajiing JRZ and a round dance.