WIKWEMIKONG— The Wikwemikong Board of Education maintains that education is the key to a better future and this year the board recognized 86 post secondary graduate students from the year 2014-2015 and handed out 65 awards and bursaries to assist post-secondary students in their studies.
The graduates, wearing gowns of black and gold, processed into the Wikwemikong High School gymnasium in a grand entry behind Ogimaa (Chief) Duke Peltier bearing the Wikwemikong Eagle Staff.
The students processed to a hand drum song performed by Danielle (Roy) McDonald, who also performed an honour song following the chief’s opening remarks.
Master of ceremonies Harold Fox noted with pride that “our community produces some of the best students in Ontario.” He congratulated the students and admonished them to remember that learning is a lifelong process and pointed out that Wikwemikong’s education system is “guided by Anishinaabe values,” adding that “we are proud of our post secondary students, education does not end after high school.”
Chief Peltier added his congratulations and conveyed the community’s gratitude for the dedication and perseverance of the students. He noted that most of the students who have acquired new skills and learning will benefit the community as they return to share their knowledge. “It is important to take time to celebrate the accomplishments,” he said. Chief Peltier also acknowledged the hard work of the Wikwemikong Board of Education under the leadership of Education Director Dominic Beaudry.
In his turn, Mr. Beaudry, who sits on the board of governors of both Laurentian University and Cambrian College, thanked the chief and council for their support in accessing an additional $2.1 million this year to support student achievement in the classroom. Mr. Beaudry also thanked the parents and guardians of the post secondary students for their exceptional work. “I know students struggle,” he said. “That is why it is so important that parents and guardians are there to provide support at home.”
For his part, Mr. Beaudry is vigilant on the boards of local post-secondary institutions to guard against racism or discrimination and to “advocate for education on behalf of our kids.”
Assembly of First Nations Regional Chief Isadore Day congratulated the graduates, noting that he had based his campaign for regional chief on the need for stronger education. “That is the one thing we are all concerned about,” he said. “The future of our young ones.”
Chief Day noted that the word change is of critical importance these days. “Change is upon us,” he said. He pointed out that change is impacting “where we are going as a community, as First Nations people and the economy. We are growing our capacity and I am excited to see so many graduates.”
Chief Day admonished the graduates to “think about the land” in everything they do. “The economy isn’t going to mean anything without the land,” he continued. “I suggest that you are part of the change, whether you want to be or not. Whether you vote, or whether you choose not to vote, it is effecting change and you can make change in the world.”
Each individual is born with personal sovereignty, said Chief Day. “Thank you for making our nation stronger.”
In her closing remarks, Colleen Wassegijig-Migwans noted that the board is going into its 20th year next year. “We base our success on the success of our students,” she said. “On days like this we can smile and say ‘we are successful’.”
The post graduate class of 2014-2015 included: Christopher Aibens, Bonnie Akiwenzie Fox, David Assinewai, Ann Marie Assiniwe, Kenneth Assiniwe, Shenoah Babstock, Zachary Barlow, Megan Bishop, Haley Bissaillon, Giles Bondy, Lisa Bondy, Kijlah Bullock, Daryl Chezzi, Rachel Delamorandiere, Theresa Jane Desmoulin, Elizabeth Edgar-Webkamigad, Christopher Aaron Enosse, Alexandria Flamand, Jessica Fox, Kayla Fox, Rebecca Fox, Shannon Fraser, Hailey Gaikezheyongai-King, Meagan Hajdkiewicz, Carolyn Jacko, Dakota Jackson, Kelly Jackson, Leah Kemp, Jordan Kimewon, Shannon Kimewon, Animkii Koostachin, Taylor Kozachanko, Joseph Leblanc, Rachel Lewis, Megan MacGillivray, Christopher Mandamin, Roxxanne Mandamin, Anthony Manitowabi, Gerrilynn Manitowabi, Joshua Wilfred Manitowabi, Marcia W. Manitowabi, Mavis Manitowabi, Rita Manitowabi, Roxxanne Martin, Zane McLeod, Mary Mishibinijima, Madison Mizzau, Justin Moses, Alexandria Naokwegijig, Andrew Pangowish, Christopher J. Osawabine, Denis Pashe, Jesse Peltier, Kady Peltier, Kieran Peltier, Kyle Peltier, Marcellina Peltier, Nicole Peltier, Zachariah Peltier, Brenden Pheasant, Bedahbin Pitawanakwat, Cody Pitawanakwat, Jordan Pitawanakwat, Kirby Pitawanakwat, Naomi Pitawanakwat, Sasha Pitawanakwat, Megan Powell, Allan Recollet, Courtney Recollet, Roxanne Recollet, Joshua Shaw, Adrienne Shawana, Rebecca Shawana, Meryca Shawongonabe, Petrina Shigwadja, Sean Soderman, Darryl Souliere-Lamb, Sara Swain, Ian Trudeau, Linda Trudeau, Stacey Wabegijig, Lorena Wabonosse, Ali-Jo Wemigwans, Juliann Wemigwans, Maxine Wemigwans and Pierce Wemigwans.
Among those receiving scholarships and bursaries were 13 students presented with Dreamcatcher Awards: Dustin Cooper, Dominic Desmoulin, Elizabeth Eshkibok-Trudeau, Nicole Jacko-Metasinine, Ashley Nadjiwon, Ozzie Osawamick, Kieran Peltier, Shanna Peltier, Urban Peltier, Nicole Shawana, Patty Slee, Christine Trudeau and Trisha Trudeau.
Receiving Three Fires Awards were Cameryn Beaudry, Kalyne Beaudry, Brian Fox, Felix Flamand, Brandon Jacko, Alannah Mandamin-Shawanda, Brittany Manitowabi, Lanell Mejaki, Amsay Osawamick, Breanne Peltier, Leo Peltier, Karen Recollet, Shelly Trudeau, Juliette Wemigwans and Marissa Wemigwans.
Part-time awards were presented to Norm Beauvais and Vera Haslett and Post-Secondary Fundraising Awards were presented to Keaton Francis, Anthony George, Dakota Jackson, Albert Plant Jr., Jessica Manitowabi-Osawabine, Jordan Pitawanakwat, Lynette Ominika and Naomi Recollet.
In the business award category, Nyhra Rivers received the Ngwaagan Gamig Recovery Centre Award, Hilary Pangowish received the Wasse-Abin Junior School Award, Nicholas McGregor and Corey McDonald received the Wikwemikong Board of Education Award, Christopher Mandamin received the Wikwemikong Hub Centre Award, Brendan Pheasant received the Wikwemikong Police Services Award, Rodney Fox received the White’s Shell Award, Ryan Brooks received the Manitoulin Chiropractic Clinic Award, Shane Flamand received the Wikwemikong Technical Services Award, Animikii Koostachin received the Complete Automotive Award; Emileo Flamand receiving the A and V Heating Award; Danielle Simon-Newton received the Laurentian Business Products Award; Chris Aiabens and Amanda Peltier received the A. Manitowabi Group—Andy’s Award; and Skyeanne Trudeau and Naomi Mandamin received the Kendaaswin Award.
Memorial Awards were also presented, with Jamie Manitowabi and Jacob Pitawanakwat receiving the Ogimaa Al Shawana Memorial Award; Martha Wabegijig receiving the Mary Agnes Webkamigad (Pheasant) Memorial Award; Kieran Peltier received the Sara Peltier Memorial Award; Jane Desmoulin received the Millie Desmoulin Memorial Award; Courtney Wassegijig received the Beatrice George memorial Award; Russel Peltier received the Louis and Mary Trudeau Memorial Award; Karlene Fox received the Jim Wakegijig Memorial Award; Teresa Flamand and Russel Peltier received the Annie Peltier Memorial Award; and Agatha and Jessie Hartley received the David Manitowabi Manitowabi Memorial Award.
Following the awards ceremony, the students and their families took part in a celebratory feast consisting of a roast beef dinner.