Friends and family of more than 100 aboriginal Grade 7 students from elementary schools across Vancouver packed the Croatian Cultural Centre to celebrate their kids moving forward into high school.
The students paraded across the stage with their classmates and support workers, many wearing pieces of regalia along with their suits or fancy dresses. Each was given a certificate of achievement and a commemorative medal.
Ceremony MC Chas Desjarlais, Vancouver School Board's aboriginal education curriculum consultant, spoke about the significance of the occasion. "Each one of you has been given a gift. That gift was bestowed upon you by the creator. Your education is your opportunity to develop that gift."
The students and their families were then treated to a series of compelling performances and speakers. In his keynote address Chief Ian Campbell of the Squamish First Nation talked about Canada's relationship with its aboriginal peoples being in a healing period of transformation and transition. "There are only one million of us in a sea of 35 million"� Be proud of who you are and where you came from"� All the people are here because they love you. We're all rooting for you."
Isaiah Lehtinen, a Grade 12 aboriginal student from Britannia Secondary who will be heading to Langara for Business Administration next year, encouraged the Grade 7s. "Find your passion and work with it. It's worth every second. Have a fun summer."
After the official proceedings on May 19 everyone munched on snacks, including bannock and cake. Samual, a Sir Wilfred Grenfell Elementary student who will be going to Burnaby North Secondary next year, said, "I'm really excited about high school, meeting new people and new teachers. I'll miss having a single teacher though. I may possibly join clubs; I like singing and drama."
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