M’CHIGEENG – Spring graduation ceremonies are among the key milestones in a person’s life, whether they happen in the early blush of youth or as part of a lifelong learning process. This year, graduations have undergone a radical transformation as the restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic have forced many educational institutions to think outside the box to celebrate their graduates’ successes. Kenjgewin Teg moved its graduation ceremonies online this year and the result is a pretty impressive effort in these trying times.
The graduation ceremonies began with an opening greeting in Anishinaabemowin and prayer by elder Gloria Oshkabewisens-McGregor. “This is a celebration that I feel too,” said Ms. Oshkabewisens-McGregor, “that you have made it through to where you are today, the struggles you have had to go through, especially this year.” She went on to express gratitude to the many teachers, support workers and other helpers who assisted the students on their journey to higher education.
Beverley Roy-Carter, Kenjgewin Teg director of post secondary education and training, brought greetings on behalf of the board and faculty, extolling the extra commitment and effort demonstrated by the students this year. “You will always be a part of the Kenjgewin Teg family,” she said.
This year’s trades fundamentals graduates included Jesse Aguonie and Timothy Pitawanakwat-Wemigwans.
Dr. Erin Peltier delivered a heartfelt address to the personal support worker graduates, welcoming them to the medical field and expressing how it was an honour to be asked to address them on this special occasion. “I am so proud of your hard work and dedication,” she said. She went on to note the special qualities, such as patience and integrity, that caring for the most vulnerable requires.
This year’s PSW graduates include: Katrina Alston, Rachel Hardy, Delores Denny, Serge Krieger-Woinosky, Stephen Mandamin and Lindsay Owl. The program was delivered in partnership with Canadore College.
The business graduates were addressed by Jason Peltier, business services manager of Waubetek Business Development Corporation. Mr. Peltier sent “a couple of words of encouragement” to the graduates. “It took a lot of hard work to reach this goal,” he said, adding that the students will be assured of success as they carry that hard work out to take on the business world.
This year’s business graduates include Curtis Fox, Jeanette Pitawanakwat and Andre Secord.
Elder Gordon Waindubence delivered a greeting in Anishinaabemowin that included the words he was gifted with during his own school years, now a lifetime ago, but still relevant today. “They helped me in life,” he said. “I am so very proud of you who have finished school in this troubled year. Good, better and best. Never take a rest until good becomes better and better becomes best.”
In addressing those in the Pathways to Higher Education program, Dean Mark Gibeault said that he wished that he could shake each student’s hand, adding “miigwetch for sharing your skills with us.”
The Ontario Secondary School Diploma students are Shane Michael Cooper, Raine Farquhar, James Fisher, Chris Hogge, Teddi Murphy-Pinnance and Tyler Harvey.
Completion of the Mshiigaade Miikan Program (the path is clearing) 750 hours of Anishinaabe Aadiziwin learning opportunities and which uses an Indigenous wellness framework to assist Anishinabek individuals and their families meet their personal, educational and career goals was celebrated by family stream participants RoseAnn Beaudry, Henry Migwans and Albertine Migwans. The employment stream participants included Margo Turple, Shawn Owl, Rachel Hardy and Dawn McGraw.
The closing address and prayer was delivered by elder Josh Eshkawkogan who highlighted the Seven Directions teachings in his closing.
The complete graduation ceremony can be accessed at KenjgewinTeg.ca/graduation.
Congratulations to the Kenjgewin Teg graduates of 2020.