Indigenous Services hosted its fourth annual Graduation Ceremony for Indigenous Students at the International and Graduate Affairs Building on April 7. Since many of the students will be leaving London, this was a final chance to say goodbye and celebrate their success together.
Emceeing the event were Sean Hoogterp, Learning Resource Centre Coordinator for Indigenous Students, and Brent Stonefish, Director of Indigenous Students. Guest speakers included Brent Debassige, Western Education professor; Janice Deakin, Provost and Vice-President (Academic); as well as Myrna Kicknosway and Bruce Elijah, Visiting Elders at Indigenous Services.
Twenty-two graduates attended, including: Xnia Brown, Haida Nation Raven Clan; Ashley Deacon, Opaskwayak Cree Nation; Jessica Duke, Chippewa of the Thames; Coral Ann Fenner and Marshall Hill, Oneida of the Thames; Jasmine Fournier, Garden River First Nation; Valerie Hopkins, Lenapee/Delaware Nation; Stevie Jonathan, Kelsey Powless and Hailey Thomas Wilson, Mohawk from Six Nations; Jessica Karjanmaa, Metis; Jared Lees, Pays Plat First Nation; Gerrilynn Manitowabi, Wikwemikong First Nation; Alycia Montague, Cayuga from Six Nations; Dan Moreau, Metis; Kia Peters, Caldwell First Nation; Danielle Robinson and Aireal Starr, Pic River First Nation; Cassie Shiell, Snuneymuxw First Nation; and Lillian Woroniuk, Moose Cree First Nation.
Annya Bimadoskha Pucan and Danielle Robinson received the Valio Markkanen Aboriginal Award of Excellence, presented annually to one aboriginal graduate student and one undergraduate student who has achieved excellence in academics, and has also contributed to the aboriginal community.
Honour songs were delivered by the singers of Purple Spirit big drum group and Sisters of All Nations, the women’s hand-drum group founded by First Nations students at Western.
Among the students was Carly Jamieson, graduating from the Faculty of Social Science with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in First Nations Studies. Since finishing her final semester, she has taken a position at Six Nations Polytechnic as a development officer intern.
“It’s been keeping me very busy with student recruitment, conferences, event planning, research and proposal writing,” said Jamieson, an Onondaga, who hails from the community of Six Nations, as does her family. “With my background in First Nations Studies and Psychology, I’m really enjoying working in a position at an institution that allows me to do what I can to help our community youth and students. My goal is to continue working in the education sector for our Indigenous youth whether that as a development officer or an academic advisor.”
The events finished up with social songs sung by Lotunt Honyust and a dinner for the graduates and their guests.