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Kenjgewin Teg graduation celebrates 30 years of grads

M’CHIGEENG—On June 20, the Kenjgewin Teg community gathered to celebrate a momentous occasion—the graduation ceremony marking the 30th year of the institution. The day commenced with a traditional sunrise pipe ceremony led by esteemed knowledge holders Gloria Oshakwewisens-McGregor of Whitefish River First Nation and Josh Eshkawkogan of Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory.

Beverley Roy, president of Kenjgewin Teg, expressed profound pride in each graduate and gratitude for being part of their lifelong learning journey. She extended heartfelt wishes for their future success, underscoring the significance of their achievements.

The ceremony continued with the procession of graduates, honouring those who completed the Anishinaabe Aadziwin Distinction program, which includes a wide range of traditional and cultural learning activities. The 2024 Anishinaabe Aadziwin Distinction graduates are Coralee Armstrong, Deborah Bird, Jenny Cleaveley, Mary Delange, Marlene Essex, Jessica Gray, Pauline Keeshig-Tobias, Ashton Kozeyah, Lucien Lachance, Madison Noganosh, Cadence Pangowish and Alexandra Pitawanakwat.

This voluntary program is offered to all students and staff, promoting engagement in both formal and informal Anishinaabemowin learning, traditional cultural and harvesting practices, and traditional music, among other activities. By completing at least 24 hours of chosen activities, students earn the distinction, celebrating their commitment to cultural education.

The 2024 Kenjgewin Teg Ontario Secondary School Diploma graduates include Amanda Brake, Clayton Limin, and Arianna Shigwadija-Trudeau. Graduates from various partnership programs were also recognized, including the Personal Support Worker Program with Canadore College, the Practical Nursing Program with Fleming College, the Indigenous Teacher Education Program with Queen’s University, the Carpentry Pre-Apprenticeship Program with Canadore College, and the Shki-Moojinakiing – Pathway to Trades program with Canadore College.

Additionally, Canadian Welding Bureau Certification graduates and those completing the Computer Applications Program with Canadore College were celebrated. Graduates who received Ontario College of Teachers additional qualifications in Outdoor Experiential Education, and those who completed the Teaching Ojibwa Program Part 1 and the Outdoor Experiential Education Summer programs were also honoured.

The 2024 Kenjgewin Teg Ontario Secondary School Diploma graduates are Amanda Brake, Clayton Limin and Arianna Shigwadija-Trudeau. 

Personal Support Worker Program graduates are Rachelle Barrette, Nicole DeBruin, Madison Kerr, Renata Lima, Annabelle Mishibinjima, Cathleen Osawabine, Laurie Patreau, Stephanie Skilling, Caitlin Sloss and Timothy St-Denis. 

The Practical Nursing Program graduates are Deborah Bird, Mary Delange, Dana Mandarin, Tawyna McCulligh and Robyn Yaschuk. 

The Indigenous Teacher Education Program celebrated graduates Marlene Essex, Jessica Gray and Cadence Pangowish. 

The Carpentry Pre-Apprenticeship Program graduates are Aaron Bucholz, Maverick Bushey, Rylie Desroches, Gwenyth McLeod, Robin Nahwegahbow, Shaun Owl, Hannah Peltier and Daniel Sememtsov. 

Shki-Moojinakiing- Pathway to Trades graduates are Joshua Assinewai, Donald Beaton, Damion Debassige, Leah King, Ashton Kozeyah and Morgan Kozeyah. 

Canadian Welding Bureau Certification graduates are Chris Bissaillion, Andrew Cooper, Hunter Corbiere, Katelyn Gonawabi Beil, Christopher Hanna, Athena Jacko-Migwanabe, Lucien Lachance, Patrick McClements, Jessica Sky, Alexander Steeves, Austin Tabobondung, Johntae Toulouse and Andrew Webb.  

Computer Applications Program — in partnership with Canadore College — graduates are Aaron Manitowabi, Cynthia Osawamick, Anita Recollect, Hayley Southwind and Samantha Toulouse. 

Ontario College of Teachers additional qualifications recipients in the area of Outdoor Experiential Education Spring of 2023 graduates are: Erin Buchman, Karen Butler, Peter Cicco, Amber Clement, Alan Coombs, Haley De Turse, Isobel Donaldson, Taylor Lambie, Chantal Lariviere, Alison Maroney, Amy Mavec, Monty McGahey, Kent Moffett, Aron O’Brien, Lydia Pelsor, Nicole Pigeau, Heidi-Ann Polti, Deanna Riching, Miquela Skinner, Kory Snache, Jacqueline Whelan, Lauren Jill Wooley and Sarah Yeniay. 

Teaching Ojibwa Program Part 1 Summer of 2023 program graduates are Michael Baxter, Christina Beaucage, Ruth Cassie, Rachael Cummings, Robin Debassige, Nicole Fleming, Jordan Gray, Amanda Hardisty, Grace Henry-Caron, Colin Ireland, Gail Lafleur, Molly McKee, Shawnee Penasse, Gillian Percy, Michelle Taukei and Geneva Walker. 

Outdoor Experiential Education Summer of 2023 program graduates are April Aelick, Jacky Chan, Hilary Cook, Mary Fischer, Michelle McKitterick, Julie McLean, Kimberley Neill, Ava Olds, Karen Passarello, Crystal Piche and Danica Thomsen-Harnick. 

Moving speeches by student representatives highlighted their personal journeys and the transformative impact of their education at Kenjgewin Teg. Their words reflected a shared sense of achievement, community, and hope for the future.

Culturally specific education, such as that provided by Kenjgewin Teg, plays a crucial role in the empowerment and preservation of Indigenous identities. These programs are tailored to reflect and honour the rich traditions, languages, and cultural practices of Indigenous communities, fostering a sense of pride and belonging among students.

By integrating traditional knowledge and contemporary education, culturally specific programs help bridge the gap between past and present, ensuring that Indigenous ways of knowing and learning continue to thrive. This approach not only supports academic success but also promotes holistic development, encompassing spiritual, emotional, and social growth.

For Indigenous students, culturally specific education provides a supportive environment where their heritage is respected and celebrated. It strengthens community ties, nurtures leadership, and prepares students to contribute meaningfully to their communities and beyond.

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