Honour ceremony a virtual celebration of Indigenous student resilience

Saskatchewan Polytechnic has been hosting honour ceremonies to celebrate the hard work, dedication and achievements of its Indigenous students for more than 30 years, but this year’s celebration had special significance. The event’s theme for 2021 was Honouring Resilience—a fitting tribute to recognize a year that has stretched students’ abilities to adapt and succeed even more than usual.

“We are honoured to celebrate the work of our Indigenous students preparing to graduate,” says Saskatchewan Polytechnic president and CEO, Dr. Larry Rosia. “These students have faced an unprecedented year of challenges. We honour and acknowledge their dedication and commitment to their education at Sask Polytech, and all of their many successes, as they now step out in confidence, taking their learning and training into the community and across the province’s workforce.” 

The Sask Polytech honour ceremony welcomed all Indigenous students, their families and friends as well as Elders and other members from the student's home communities. The ceremony on March 24 was held as a virtual event for the first time, with live streaming to Facebook.

Presented by SaskTel, the online event included greetings from Elder Rick Daniels; His Honour the Honourable Russ Mirasty, Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan; Chief Bobby Cameron, Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations; Glen McCallum, Metis Nation Saskatchewan president; Dr. Larry Rosia, Sask Polytech president and CEO; Dr. Has Malik, Sask Polytech provost and vice-president, Academic; and Deanna Speidel, Sask Polytech Indigenous Strategy director (interim). The celebration included an honour song, jingle dress performance by Buffalo Boy Productions and entertainment by Jordan Daniels Fiddle Music.

“SaskTel has made it a priority to continue to support the next generation of Saskatchewan leaders as they fulfill their academic goals, because they understand that the future of our province is now,” says Don Morgan, Minister Responsible for SaskTel. “I’d like to offer my congratulations to each and every student who has been honoured at the ceremony. You’ve done a fantastic job representing this province, this school, your ancestors and most importantly, yourselves. You should all be very proud of your achievements. And know that you deserve to be recognized with respect and honour.”

Deanna Speidel, Sask Polytech’s interim director of Indigenous Strategy, speaks of the sacrifices that many Indigenous students make to accomplish their educational goals. “These students do not always have an easy path and often face obstacles. Our students have shown remarkable resilience and perseverance, even while under more than the usual pressures encountered in a typical year. The honour ceremony is a time to acknowledge and honour their efforts and encourage them to complete their studies and programs.”

More than 19 per cent of Sask Polytech’s student population identifies as Indigenous. The Indigenous Student Success Strategy helps remove barriers to success for Indigenous students and enhance their experience by incorporating Indigenous ways of thinking and learning into the everyday culture of Sask Polytech.

For more information contact indigenous.strategy@saskpolytech.ca.

Published March 2021