June 27, 2019 - It was an emotional day for students, families and staff of Gaagagekiizhik School and Bimose Community High School as they celebrated another successful year. Graduation took place at Gaagagekiizhik School this year where Grand Entry was led by the honour song and a traditional opening from Elder Jim Green. Lillian Swain gave the first speech expressing her feelings of gratitude and pride of seeing the Senior Kindergarten class move forward into Grade One.
Sam Chicago and Cynthia Jourdain of the Gaagagekiizhik Parent Council presented an Appreciation Award for Principal Ryan White who is leaving the school after this year - Ryan White has been a part of Gaagagekiizhik School since opening and gave an outstanding heartfelt speech that shared his feelings about leaving the school and the irreplaceable memories that he has from the students. "It’s been a great four years, meeting all the people, grandparents, parents, kids - watching them all grow into who they are now. We always said that this school would represent a strong foundation in culture, language and values and I know we've achieved that. Miigwech to all the families, staff and Bimose staff."
Darcy Wickham, Principal of Bimose Community High School, gave an emotional speech expressing the pleasure it has been to work with these graduates through the years. "Seeing them move forward into the next part of their lives - it feels like a part of the family is leaving home." Wickham shared his wisdom about moving forward and told graduates to remember the accomplishments and successes they have so far in their lives and to always remember that “you're capable of anything.”
Keynote speaker, Don Morrison, acknowledged the drum and all in attendance who helped make this day special for the graduates. "Boozhoo everyone, my name is Don Morrison, the executive director for Bimose Tribal Council. I've been working with Bimose for over 30 years now. Listening to Ryan and Darcy speak and to the other presenters, we are very fortunate, very blessed, and very grateful to have such amazing staff working for our school. We started this school from working hard and together - it was with vision and through ceremony that we are here today. I still get chills when coming into this school in the sense that this was not here five years ago. When I look back and see all of our teaching staff and see how they have progressed and built this school. That's the way I see Ryan, the way I see Darcy, and all the teaching staff - you are the builders of this school - from where we started to where we are now, expanding into grade 7 and continuing to expand with more staff and more grades in the upcoming years. I'm extremely proud of all the staff and their growth within this school, you are all more confident, more innovative and more able of doing an amazing job. I like what Ryan (White) said about the whole vision here in creating this Anishinaabe school, we exist to give our young people and ourselves a really strong foundation in our culture and beliefs - that's how we are going to prosper and persevere as people - I truly believe that." Morrison moved on into expressing the gratitude he has towards Principal White and all he has done for this school, the singing, ceremonies, and bringing the drum into the school. The way he has grown and interacts with the students and parents of our community and wishing him the best in his future endeavours. "I'd like to acknowledge the drum, the elders and the hard-working students we have come to celebrate. One of the things I've learned in my life is that as individuals we cannot accomplish great things alone, and as I look at our graduates this is what I see, a great day, a great accomplishment - be proud and also be grateful for everyone who has got you to this point - parents, grandparents, aunties, uncles, brothers, sisters, your friends, your teachers. When I think about myself and any milestone I have achieved, I like to also think about the strong team behind me that helped me get there, and that what it’s all about here - recognizing those who helped you on your journey. As Anishinaabe, it is our responsibility to use our gifts that the creator gave to help one another. As an adult, I encourage those to continue to use these gifts to help our future generations to achieve their dreams. To all of our Kindergarten graduates, thank you for learning with us, thank you for making us smile and going on this journey with us. To our High School graduates, this really is an amazing day for you and I encourage you all to follow the paths you feel strongly for, whether that be traditional or post-secondary, remember you can do this - you can accomplish anything. As Anishinaabe people, we are gifted, we are strong, we are blessed, and I want you to be proud of yourself - hold your head up when you walk out this door because it is your day." In closing, Morrison went on to thank all the staff and everyone who came out to support the 2019 Graduation for Gaagagekiizhik School and Bimose Community High School.
Students graduating from Senior Kindergarten and receiving their High School Diplomas received Star Quilts as part of the ceremony, a tradition that has been held up since the school has opened. In closing students and families were invited to enjoy refreshments and bannock and get their graduation photos done by a professional photographer.
Graduates of 2018/2019
Senior Kindergarten: Mishkwaanakwut Green, Aries Redsky, Peyton Bays-Kokopenace, Randi O'Cheek, Atticus Skead, and Haven Land
Grade 12 Diplomas: Sunrise Kabestra-Savage and Julia Skead-Fox.