The University of Winnipeg is celebrating First Nations, Métis, and Inuit graduates during a special Indigenous Graduation Ceremony on June 7.
This is an important opportunity to celebrate their accomplishments and experience the vibrancy of gathering with family, friends, Elders, and the UWinnipeg community.
Dr. Todd Mondor
Hosted annually by the Aboriginal Student Services Centre (ASSC), this celebration usually takes place in the form of a Spring Pow Wow in March. However, due to the COVID-19 situation in the winter and health risks to Elders, this modified event was organized in conjunction with UWinnipeg’s 120th Convocation.
“Our Indigenous Graduation Ceremony is an opportunity for the UWinnipeg community to come together and celebrate the hard work our First Nations, Métis, and Inuit students have invested while following their academic dreams,” said Dr. Todd Mondor, President and Vice-Chancellor, UWinnipeg. “These bright minds are poised to make an impact on society in a wide range of fields.”
This year, approximately 102 Indigenous undergraduate and graduate students will be graduating in June as part of the Class of 2022. There are more Indigenous graduates expected at Fall Convocation in October.
In total, there will be approximately 200 in-person guests, along with livestreaming for friends and family to enjoy.
“We are looking forward to finally honouring our UWinnipeg Indigenous students in-person after such a long break in our community connections,” said Tanis McLeod Kolisnyk, Coordinator, ASSC. “Their resilient spirit, ability to pivot with the challenges of these past two years, and reach their UWinnipeg academic goals on their pathway in post-secondary education is an inspiration.”
Ray (Coco) Stevenson will be the master of ceremonies during the event, as he has been for the Spring Pow Wow for many years.
In keeping with cultural celebration traditions, there will be traditional Indigenous drumming, Métis fiddling, the Wii Chiiwaakanak Pow Wow Club dancers, and ASSC Elder well-wishes. Gifts to honour the graduates will include a variety of items that the team at the ASSC has prepared for each student.
“I am looking forward to this celebration honouring our First Nations, Métis, and Inuit graduates and thankful we can do so in-person this year,” said Dr. Mondor. “This is an important opportunity to celebrate their accomplishments and experience the vibrancy of gathering with family, friends, Elders, and the UWinnipeg community.”
The ASSC, which hosts events to celebrate and connect Indigenous students throughout the academic year, was created to maintain a safe, educational, and culturally sensitive environment for all Indigenous UWinnipeg students as they pursue their academic studies.
The centre strives to provide continuous student supports and resources to foster student resilience and success year-round.
“The work of the Aboriginal Student Services Centre is invaluable to the University and I’m very thankful for them,” said Dr. Mondor. “Their efforts in improving Indigenous student experience – from the application process to Convocation – is very important as we continue our journey toward true reconciliation.”