Grad Feathers Ceremony brings FNMI graduates together to celebrate

By Garrett Simmons

Lethbridge School District No. 51

Communications Officer

Lethbridge School District No. 51 celebrated its FNMI graduates in style Thursday night at Victoria Park High School.

For the first time in the District’s history, FNMI students were brought together for a Grad Feathers Ceremony, to mark their achievements.

“We have a gymnasium full of young adults and we have a roomful of very proud staff, very proud administrators, very proud families and very proud workers who have prepared all day to make this a special event,” said Superintendent Cheryl Gilmore. “Most important, I truly hope you are proud of yourself and proud of each other.”

Elder Peter Weasel Moccasin, who delivered the evening’s opening prayer, also urged the graduates to do what they can to be successful in their futures, whatever that may bring. He added their Elders will be there alongside them for that journey, to help them understand they will have challenges to overcome along the way.

“It takes a lot of perseverance, it takes a lot of courage to step out of your comfort zone and be adventurous in your life,” he told the graduates.

Sarah Heimbecker, First Nations, Metis, Inuit Lead Teacher for Lethbridge School District No. 51, said the time was right to bring all of the District’s FNMI students together for a joint graduation ceremony. Thursday-night’s event included FNMI graduates from Chinook High School, Lethbridge Collegiate Institute, Victoria Park High School and Winston Churchill High School.

In all, the District celebrated 51 FNMI graduates, up from 26 just one year ago, which at that time represented an all-time high for the District.

Aside from the recognition for the graduates, District Associate Superintendent Wendy Fox was also honoured. Weasel Moccasin performed a ceremony to bestow a Blackfoot name upon Fox, translated as Thunder Pipe Owl Woman.

Fox, who is retiring this year, has been a tireless behind-the-scenes supporter of FNMI education in the District for many years, according to Heimbecker.

“She’s a mentor and a role model for all of us,” said Heimbecker, on behalf of all the District FNMI liaison workers in the District. “She will be missed.”

Date posted: May 20, 2016

Picture number 1 from the photo album called Grad Feathers Ceremony brings FNMI graduates together to celebrate
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Picture number 8 from the photo album called Grad Feathers Ceremony brings FNMI graduates together to celebrate