At a ceremony, June 22, 2019, in Pikogan First Nation, McGill University and Cree School Board (CSB) dignitaries awarded 57 Cree students from Eeyou Istchee with certificates. Eleven students earned their Certificate in Cree Literacy and another 46 earned their Culture and Language Certificate.
The students studied under McGill's Office of First Nations and Inuit Education.
"Many of the students who earned their Culture and Language Certificate today will go on to study for the Bachelor of Education," said Elma Moses, Deputy Director General of Pedagogy.
CSB Chairperson Sarah Pash also addressed the students - whose careers will be devoted to preserving and vitalizing Cree language and culture and fostering Cree literacy.
"We are all a part of a bigger project," she said. "We have all made the commitment to do what we can to ensure the future of our children and our communities."
"I am proud to have all of you as my companions because you have made the decision to join in the project, in the calling, to become a part of making sure that our communities, our children, our nation, have access to their heritage for generations to come." ~ Sarah Pash, CSB Chairperson
Other speakers included Deputy Chief of Pikogan First Nation Bruno Kishabish, Interim Director of Education Services Angela Gates, Dean of McGill's Faculty of Education Dilson Rassier, and the Director of First Nations and Inuit Education at McGill, James Howden.
A candle was lit at the beginning of the ceremony to honour missing and murdered Indigenous women, and the parents of Pikogan First Nation's Sindy Ruperthouse, missing since 2014, told the story of the loss of their daughter.
The student speaker was Flora Otter, who graduated on the Dean's Honour List in the top ten percent of her class.
Culture & Language Certificate
Mary Ann Gull
Rachel Marie Hester
Cree Literacy Certificate