U of Manitoba powwow, held in person for 1st time since 2019, honours 415 Indigenous graduates

Hundreds of people gathered at the University of Manitoba to celebrate 415 Indigenous graduates on Saturday, during the university’s first in-person graduation powwow since 2019.

Christine Cyr, the university’s associate vice-president, Indigenous, says it’s an incredible feeling to gather in person after two years of virtual celebrations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We put a lot of love into everything we do, but to come here today — and for our graduates to graduate in front of the community, in front of their parents and family and their classmates and their community — it just takes it to another level,” Cyr said.

She says it’s especially important to honour this year’s graduates.

“Those are the ones who came through and achieved and graduated. Despite … virtual learning, and despite the pandemic and all the challenges that this year brought, we still had 415 Indigenous students who persevered,” she said.

Taylor Tutkaluke hopes to use her kinesiology degree to improve the health and wellness of her community. (Walther Bernal/CBC)

Taylor Tutkaluke, who just completed a degree in kinesiology, was among the graduates.

Tutkaluke, who is Métis with Cree and Ojibway roots, hopes to use her education to improve the health and wellness of her people.

She says the last two years have been taxing.

“The long nights in your room — classes, work, everything by yourself, and not being able to come together. This is one of the first times everybody’s been able to do that,” Tutkaluke said.

“It feels so good because a lot of these people had such big impacts on our school experience from Day 1. It was really hard being without that for so long. It’s so nice now to be all together, and it makes me so proud, and I just feel so lucky.”

Brandi Cable celebrated earning her degree in anthropology on Saturday. (Walther Bernal/CBC)

Brandi Cable graduated with an honours degree in anthropology. The graduate, who hails from The Pas, Man., and has family ties to South Indian Lake, hopes to give back to the Indigenous community.

“My whole purpose in studying anthropology is to get involved in more Indigenous issues. So being involved in missing and murdered Indigenous women cases, residential school searches, repatriation, all those kinds of things,” Cable said.

Elder-in-residence Carl Stone offered his congratulations to the graduates.

“It’s a huge celebration. It’s congratulating and celebrating the success of students that have worked very hard to get their degrees,” he said.

“I feel pride. I feel absolute pride in what’s happening here. This is our community coming together.”

Hundreds of people came together to honour the 415 Indigenous graduates at the U of M. (Walther Bernal/CBC)

RRC honours Indigenous graduates

On Friday, Red River College Polytechnic held its own graduation powwow — the college’s biggest ever, celebrating 170 Indigenous graduates.

“We’re here for our students, to honour them,” said Monica Morin, RRC Polytech’s program manager of Indigenous education, said on Friday.

WATCH | RRC Polytech graduation powwow:

RRC Polytech honours Indigenous grads with its biggest powwow ever

21 hours ago

Duration 2:17

After putting the tradition on hold for two years due to the pandemic, Red River College Polytech celebrated its graduating class of more than 150 Indigenous students with the biggest powwow in its history Friday. 2:17

Valedictorian Kyra De La Ronde just completed her diploma in community development.

“As a Métis woman, I really hope to work for my nation and bring the skills I’ve learned here back to my community, and really just ensuring they have a strong economic future and economic prosperity for all,” she said.

After being apart during the pandemic, De La Ronde says there’s no better time than a graduation to get together and celebrate.

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