BRANDON, MB — More than 200 people were attendance at the annual Brandon University Graduation Powwow on May 31. Designed to honour graduating aboriginal students, the event assembled dancers, singers and drummers.
The graduating students — Tia Nienhuysen (B.A.), Johnson Apetagon (B. Creative Arts), Sylvia Harper (B.Ed.), Kelly Meikle (B.Ed.), Rhonda McPherson (B.Ed.), Kelsey Grindey (B.Ed.), Jodean Colomb (B.Ed.), Marlene Bear (B.Sc.), Claudine Fries (B.First Nations and Aboriginal Couselling), Roberta Riglin (B.First Nations and Aboriginal Couselling), Gabrielle Cote (Program for the Education of Native Teachers), Virgil Bunn (Program for the Education of Native Teachers), and Rebecca Okemow (B. Phys. Ed.) — were treated to a cultural celebration of their achievements.
“This powwow means as much as the convocation does, because I’m being honoured by my people in their way,” said Rebecca Okemow, whose three daughters, son and husband were in attendance. She will be continuing her studies, entering the Bachelor of Education program at Brandon University in the fall. “This is very special. It means a lot.”
After the Grand Entry, the Opening Prayer by elder Frank Tacan and speeches by dignitaries, there was an honour song for the graduates, dance demonstrations and a Métis component. The event was organized in a collaboration between student assistant Jackie Sinclair and the Brandon University Aboriginal Student Council, with the support of campus and community partners.