Indigenous Students Honoured for Learning Journey

June 5, 2024
Group of 10 Indigenous Students at Graduation Ceremony 2024

Surrounded by the warm embrace of the families and staff, accomplishments by Indigenous students were recognized on the eve of Selkirk College Convocation 2024.

The annual Indigenous Graduation Ceremony was held at the Gathering Place on the Castlegar Campus in late-May where students were celebrated alongside their peers, instructors, the Indigenous Services team, Elders and invited guests. Ten self-identified Indigenous graduates of the college attended the event that included a blanket ceremony, speeches, sharing and overall pride in achievement. 

“It means so much to me,” said Miranda Dusome, who graduated with a certificate in the Social Service Worker Program. “There are lots of us who don’t really know our true potential because we are disconnected from our communities, our language and our traditions. It’s really beautiful to see everybody getting to reconnect.”

The Indigenous Services Department provides shared cultural teachings, activities, counselling, financial support and academic guidance through the post-secondary pathway that students choose. 

Blanket cermony with student at Indigenous grad ceremony
Graduating student Miranda Dusome takes part in the blanket cermony with Indigenous Services department staff at the graduation event.

With a desire to help and support others in the social work field, Dusome arrived to Selkirk College with limited post-secondary experience. Anishinaabe on father’s side and Métis on mother’s side, the 30-year-old grew up in a small town in southern Alberta without much connection to her culture. Distrustful of institutional education, Dusome said the support she received from Indigenous Services was vital to her graduation outcome.

“I have come from lots of stigma and racism in my life,” she said. “Getting to learn more about my culture through the people who are here to support us has enabled me to be proud of who I am.”

At the graduation event, all 10 students took part in a blanket ceremony where they were wrapped by Indigenous Services team members Rodney Noskiye and Danica Weager. A symbol of respect and recognition, the blankets are intended to carry the graduates forward onto their next chapter. Rick Desautel from the Sinixt Nation then gifted each student with an eagle feather he gathered that were beaded by Noskiye in the college’s colours of burgundy and gold. 

Like Dusome, graduate Madelene Couturier entered Selkirk College with little connection to her Métis culture. Graduating with a diploma in the Social Service Worker Specialty Program, she spent considerable time at the Gathering Place with Elders and working on building better understanding.

“I have learned so much more about my culture and other Indigenous cultures in my time here,” said Couturier. “What is happening at Selkirk College is amazing. The institution is so enthralled in Indigeneity, both Indigenous and settler instructors are very passionate about pushing forward in a good way.”

In total, there were 42 self-identified Indigenous students who were eligible for graduation this year across all programs.

Learn more about Selkirk College Indigenous Services.