Shuswap aboriginal grads mark milestone

Pride radiated throughout the room as 79 First Nations students from School District #83 celebrated their accomplishments.

Accomplishment: First Nations students from around the school district celebrate their graduation from high school at a special ceremony held last Wednesday.

Accomplishment: First Nations students from around the school district celebrate their graduation from high school at a special ceremony held last Wednesday.

Pride radiated throughout the room as 79 First Nations students from School District #83 celebrated their accomplishments at the fifth annual aboriginal graduation that took place May 23 at the Salmon Arm Secondary Sullivan Campus gymnasium.

Inspiration was at a high as speeches delivered by Louis Thomas and Chief Wayne Christian encouraged students to be the changes they wished to see in the world.

They described how, in just a few short years, phones have become portable, television has evolved into something more complex, and a black man has been elected U.S. president.

Whether you want to be a doctor or a prime minister, don’t ever think you cannot accomplish the things you dream of, said Christian.

The Carlin Fancy Dancers, accompanied by the Pleasant Valley Senior Secondary dancers, provided entertainment throughout dinner with their powwow dances followed by a rap written and performed by PVSS valedictorian Justin Peters.

After delivering his speech, Peters wowed the audience by singing the traditional men’s warrior song, which encourages strength and empowerment. The powerful impromptu performance had the entire audience rising from their seats in admiration.

Proud parents watched as students accepted their awards, marking their achievements. Samantha Robertson, SAS, and Kristin Sherlock, Eagle River Secondary, received the Social Award, an award given to a student who helps others and has demonstrated themselves to be a positive role model among their peers. Aaron Moen, SAS, and Alisha Odd, ERS, were the recipients of academic awards, which mark their excellence within the classroom. Kevin Geary, SAS, and Adelle Martin, ERS, were presented the Culture Award. This award is given to students who have been involved in their local community and cultural community. Alisha Odd was also awarded the $500 Doug Pearson Scholarship.

Each student also received framed original artwork by John Sayer.

Irene LaBoucane, district principal of aboriginal education noted School District #83 has the highest percentage of aboriginal graduates. She stressed the importance of the annual celebration that acknowledges their accomplishments.