The COVID-19 pandemic means there are still many restrictions in place, causing many events like graduations to be cancelled, but some Lethbridge grads were able to celebrate the big day.
“Today is our Indigenous graduation,” said John Chief Calf, the Lethbridge School Division’s Indigenous Education Coordinator.
Special custom-made gifts, cheers from teachers and pictures with family were all part of the celebration, but there were no classmates nor a big ceremony.
Forty-five First Nations and Metis students graduating from public high schools in Lethbridge had the chance to commemorate the big moment, despite restrictions.
“It’s still nice, with all the COVID-19, we are able to come here, still celebrate, enjoy social distancing, enjoy each other, take photos,” said Joey Beebe, a one of the graduates taking part.
“I still got the experience I wanted and I’m glad it was able to happen the way it was and I’m thankful for everyone,” he said.
Beebe is headed off to university to pursue a career in education. It’s fitting he was most excited to have one more chance to see his teachers.
“It felt good, especially seeing these people after so long, and I’m just glad that they are here,” he said.
Even though the day looks a little different, it’s still filled with excitement, not just for students, but the teachers too.
“The expression on their face of course explains everything, but to see the smiles and just to have their parents pull up and to really share that moment and accomplishment,” said Chief Calf.
Graduate Samantha Hunt is an artist. She’s headed to university in British Columbia to pursue a Bachelor of Arts and her mom, Roxanne, couldn’t be more proud.
“I’m happy for all the graduates, despite what’s going on. I’m happy for all of them. They all deserve it,” said Roxanne.
The significance of the day is more than just the end of high school. It was also about sharing a piece of culture. Each student received a smudge box, feather or sash.