WIIKWEMKOONG – Wikwemikong High School (WHS)’s best and brightest students were honoured at a gala held on Friday, December 6 that saw numerous students, past and present, receive awards based on their achievements in their studies.
Adrian Trudeau welcomed the family and community members who had gathered for the event. Mr. Trudeau is an educational assistant in the life skills class. He was the guest speaker at last year’s event and is an alumnus of WHS.
The evening began with a welcome song by Lisa Osawamick and the High School Drum Group. These were faculty members at WHS, including principal Maureen Peltier, who had recently begun learning to drum and decided to offer their newfound skills for the evening.
Wiikwemkoong elder and Order of Canada recipient Jeannette Corbiere-Lavell offered grace before everyone got up for dinner, prepared by Hiawatha’s Catering.
Following dinner, Ms. Peltier offered opening remarks.
“Tonight is our chance to experience and witness the fruits of all of the hard labour our students have accomplished,” she said. “We’re honouring your pride in school and your excellence in academics.”
Mr. Trudeau acknowledged the dedication of the teaching staff in making the students’ success possible and invited Ms. Corbiere-Lavell up for her guest speaker role.
She expressed her joy at hearing the Ojibwe language spoken at events such as these and remarked at the diversity of learning opportunities for students, compared to her own education that only offered the standard subjects like English and math.
“I look at the (program) and I am totally impressed. There’s so many awards, categories and recognitions. It shows the changing times, our advocacy and us going into new fields,” she said. “This is just the beginning, the start of our young people looking at their futures, looking at their careers.”
She encouraged everyone to continue pursuing their dreams and moving toward a brighter future.
“My congratulations; I am so proud of all you young people, your achievements and accomplishments. Keep believing in yourself and know you have a community supporting you, backing you, of your teachers and parents. I’m really amazed with the direction we’re heading,” said Ms. Corbiere-Lavell. “Know that you are going to be our future.”
The awards presentations followed.
Chelsea Mandamin-Turner and Aaryn Zoccole received the Canada and the World Award, sponsored by John and Jennifer Capin.
Caleb J. Corbiere and Ferris Eshkawkogan were this year’s recipients of the Business Award, sponsored by Enaadmaagehjik. It also sponsored the Trades Award, given to Caleb J. Corbiere, and the Media Award, given to Sage Eshkawkogan-Recollet.
Chelsea Mandamin-Turner and Tyrell Wemigwans received the Wikwemikong Heritage Organization Art Award sponsored by Wikwemikong Heritage Organization. WHO also sponsored the First Nations Studies Award, given to Hunter Staruck, and the Anishnaabemowin Award, won by Lattrell Peltier.
Peggy Pitawanakwat and Bernie Brant sponsored the Grade 9 Native Language Award, presented to Lattrell Peltier.
Mgisinii Wemigwans received the Manitoulin Minor Hockey Association Award.
Montana Trudeau, Sage Eshkawkogan-Recollet, Taryn Peltier and Aaryn Zoccole received the BMO Science Award, sponsored by the Little Current Bank of Montreal.
Aaryn Zoccole received the Mara University Science Award, sponsored by Chris Mara and Margit Alberti.
Tyrell Wemigwans received the Wikwemikong Tribal Police Service Award, sponsored by the police force.
Sierra Pangowish received the Shears to the New You Award, sponsored by Ashley Case.
Meeshen Akiwenzie received the Life Skills Class Participation Award, sponsored by Wikwemikong Community Living Anishinabek.
Shawl Eshkibok, Chelsea Mandamin-Turner, Aaryn Zoccole and Ferris Eshkawkogan received the Mathematics Scholar Awards, sponsored by Wikwemikong Health Centre.
Sage Eshkawkogan-Recollet, Taryn Peltier and Tyrell Wemigwans received the Wikwemikong Board of Education English Scholar Award, sponsored by WBE.
Cole Baibomcowai received the Manitoulin Expositor Award, sponsored by this newspaper.
Elijah Bell, Dehmin Eshkawkogan, Ferris Eshkawkogan, Grey Neganegijig and Symone Peltier received the Little Current Royal Canadian Legion Award, sponsored by the branch.
Sierra Pangowish, Dustin Lavallee, Elijah Bell, Elijah Fox, Apryl Pangowish and Gabe Trudeau received the Mnamaadzawin Physical Education Award, sponsored by Mnamaadzawin Active Living Studio.
Anina Pangowish received the Co-Operative Education Award, sponsored by Andy’s.
David Jackson received the Mackenzie Nodin Peltier Award from Jillian and Morgan Peltier. This award is for a student who demonstrates resilience and perseverance, in memory of Ms. Peltier’s son and is sponsored by Jillian and Lanny Peltier and their family.
Eileen Letander-Trudeau received the Manitoulin Family Resources Award, sponsored by MFR.
Bryce Recollet received the Loco Beanz Manitowaning Award, sponsored by that business.
Bret Kimewon received the Environment and Resource Management Award, sponsored by Wikwemikong Tech Services.
Bernadette Pangowish received the Manitowaning Guardian Pharmacy Award, sponsored by that business.
Sage Eshkawkogan-Recollet, Rory Peltier, Sterling Pangowish and Bryce Recollet received the Parents’ Council Attendance Award, sponsored by the council.
Stella Flamand, Montana Trudeau, Chelsea Mandamin-Turner, Aaryn Zoccole and Symone Peltier received the Wiikwemkoong Chief and Council Academic Excellence Awards, sponsored by the band administration.
The drum group held an honour song for all of the award recipients and then Wikwemikong Board of Education yaasgaabwitaaget (systems principal) Mick Staruck offered brief closing remarks.
He thanked the many people who made the evening possible, the students for their hard work and the teaching staff for pushing them to be their best.
“I love this school, I love all our schools. In the last couple of years, I’ve really seen it grow, and I love that I can say Anishinaabemowin is very important to WBE. You’ve heard it tonight, language is a massive part of what we do, whether we’re singing or talking,” said Mr. Staruck.