Marked with colours, smiles, culture and drums, the Maskwacis community gathered on Saturday, Sept. 27 to celebrate the students’ graduation ceremony from Maskwacis Cultural College (MCC).
The graduates of the school were met with many warm words congratulating them on their achievements.
Holly Johnson, MCC board member took to the stage first, following the grand entry of RCMP members, chiefs, the board of governors, MCC faculty and the graduates.
“I felt it in my heart, when I see the students marching in front of us they’ve accomplished something for themselves,” said Johnson.
“I want to congratulate the students for graduating in 2014 . . . and this is the beginning of your journey,” she added.
Being an alumnus of MCC and the University of Calgary among other post-secondary schools, Johnson briefly engaged the graduates with stories of her own academic journey.
She said it was MCC that provided the foundation for her successes. “Through that strong foundation, I found I had the strength to persevere through the challenges,” Johnson recalled.
The key goal of the college is to support the students who walk through its doors and aid them until the day they walk across the stage with their mortarboards. “The vision at Maskwacis Cultural College is to be a centre of academics and excellence,” said Johnson.
She added the graduates of the college have been nurtured to inspire others and use their creativity and intelligence to “bring justice to the world”.
Montana band Chief Bradley Rabbit said he and the college honour the vision of the chiefs who came before him, the chiefs who founded the college because they wanted the students of the community to have more opportunities at academic success. “Today is a beautiful example of why we put that vision together,” he said.
Chief Rabbit said he believed the First Nations people need to be able to develop their own academic system and flourish within the vision of their ancestors.
“I’m very proud of this year’s graduating class,” he concluded.
Since its founding in 1974, MCC has had more than 2,000 graduates and a special guest speaker Willie Littlechild, honorary chief of the Maskwacis Cree, made mention of that triumph.
“I think a day like today is not only for the students, although they deserve the primary recognition, but the parents, the teachers, the staff, congratulations on your shared accomplishment,” said Littlechild.
“These are the stories that need to be told, the stories of success,” he added.