This past June, I had the honour of volunteering at the inaugural event – a graduation Pow Wow at the First Nations University. Some schools were represented in great numbers, others only had a few graduates. Regardless of numbers, they all had reason to be proud of their accomplishments. As I made sure that every school represented had their banner, it was wonderful to witness the pride of the graduates as they were announced by the MC.
Afterwards, myself and the other UR S.T.A.R.S. volunteers manned activity stations for children inside the University. There were many children that participated, and it was packed! Many more adults and teenagers sat a nearby tables, mostly talking in small groups. We had lots of colouring pages available for younger children, and I thought, “Why should the kids have all the fun?” This is exactly what I said to everyone as I circulated and offered the colouring pages to families and friends, grandparents and graduates alike.
It was a joyful day, and sometimes we laughed together. Other times we discussed “To me, reconciliation is…”, as they completed the thought. As one woman wrote, “reconcilation is getting together and having respect.” For me, that’s what this experience allowed us to do, and we need more of this! We should all provide a safe place to hear our FNMI voices in Canada.
This Pow Wow was an important celebration of success and achievement, one that needs to spread exponentially across the country – with more graduates and more ceremonies. Respecting these traditions and restoring the balance of voice and presence of our FNMI in Canada is a necessary step in moving towards full reconciliation.
As we head into a new school year, I will strive to celebrate Canada’s diversity, honour our First Peoples, and foster empathy and understanding in my students. If you have any experiences, stories, or suggestions, please share them below!
You can read the full article of this event, with my photo credit, here: Treaty Four grads celebrate at powwow | Communications and Marketing, University of Regina