BEAVER LAKE - On June 22, Beaver Lake Cree Nation will be celebrating their community graduates during the midst of a pandemic for the second year running. This year’s event will include a drive-by parade stopping at the Beaver Lake multi-purpose building for photos and ending with a meal at the health centre.
The community will be acknowledging 34 students graduating from a range of academic levels from Kindergarten, Grade 6, 9 and 12, as well as post-secondary and head start. Like last year, the students of honour will make their way through the community in vehicles with their family members, passing by a variety of banners made by different groups within Beaver Lake.
End of school year celebration plans changed drastically after COVID-19 restrictions last year forced the event to be reimagined in a socially-distanced fashion. This year, event organizers, including Valerie Hunter, Amisk Community School's student success advocate, have doubled-down on the drive-thru event with more banners and the addition of a red carpet and a “Wow Tent,” which will give students and their family the opportunity to take photos in a decorated space.
Hunter, who also helped with last year's festivities, said even though families were pleased with the graduation event last year, this year there was a clear direction for organizers to plan something more elaborate while still adhering to COVID-19 heath restrictions.
“Last time some parents decorated their vehicles and really liked it,” said Hunter, expecting there will be more families taking the opportunity to embellish their rides, adding something special that reflects the students graduating this year.
A grand entry for the ceremony will begin with a Cree prayer from elders, who will be joined by community leaders, the RCMP and the Meskanakew Ahtayowkan drum group.
As the procession flows towards the new community hall, graduates will be able to leave their vehicles and walk down a red carpet to receive a gift bag and take personalized graduation photos in the Wow Tent that will be decorated to match this year's theme of “Mother Nature.”
The Meskanakew Ahtayowkan drum group will perform in a nearby gazebo as an emcee announces each graduate to the red carpet on their way to accept a gift recognizing their academic accomplishments. After photos and recognition of their achievements, students and their families will continue on to the First Nation Health Centre where they will feast in their cohorts on a steak dinner prepared by staff at the community’s health centre.
Looking forward to 2021 community graduation day Hunter says, “it is such an honor and a blessing to work as a team and bring in something special for all the students with the Amisk Community School staff.”
Remembering the 215
Amisk Community School staff, along with their students are currently looking for ways to incorporate and honour the 215 children who never returned home after attending a Roman Catholic residential school outside of Kamloops earlier this month, during their graduation event.