Parade honours Stz’uminus graduating class of 2021

A parade through Stz’uminus territory was held on July 1 to celebrate the achievements of the graudating class of 2021. (Submitted photo)A parade through Stz’uminus territory was held on July 1 to celebrate the achievements of the graudating class of 2021. (Submitted photo)
Members of North Oyster Fire Department attended the parade with two fire engines. (Submitted photo)Members of North Oyster Fire Department attended the parade with two fire engines. (Submitted photo)
Multiple vehicles were decorated with balloons and messages of support for the Stz’uminus graduates. (Submitted photo)Multiple vehicles were decorated with balloons and messages of support for the Stz’uminus graduates. (Submitted photo)
Cst. Glen Martin added an orange stripe to his RCMP squad car to show solidarity with Indigenous communities, something that Stz’uminus Chief Roxanne Harris and Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP Paul Manly believe should be added to all RCMP vehicles. (Submitted photo)Cst. Glen Martin added an orange stripe to his RCMP squad car to show solidarity with Indigenous communities, something that Stz’uminus Chief Roxanne Harris and Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP Paul Manly believe should be added to all RCMP vehicles. (Submitted photo)

A parade through Stz’uminus First Nation territory was held on July 1 to celebrate the academic achievements of the high school and university graduating class of 2021.

Stz’uminus Chief Roxanne Harris, who was celebrating her own graduation from the Masters of Educational Leadership program at Vancouver Island University, says that the parade was a great way to honour the Stz’uminus graduates.

The parade was held on Canada Day, which Harris said was done intentionally in light of recent discoveries of unmarked graves at former residential school sites across the country.

RELATED: Canada Day comes amid reckoning over the country’s treatment of Indigenous Peoples

“We didn’t want to celebrate Canada Day because of everything that’s going on, but we wanted to celebrate something because there’s a lot going on in our community that’s worth celebrating,” she said. “So we thought we should have a parade to celebrate the successes of our graduates from this year.”

This year there were 19 graduates from Ladysmith Secondary and Stz’uminus Community Schools and nine university graduates.

“There was a great sense of pride. Our elders appreciated it — we saw a lot of elders bring out their chairs and sit at the end of their driveway,” Harris said. “They wanted to see our community be successful. But it’s not just the elders, it was everybody.”

Stz’uminus RCMP liaison Constable Glen Martin led the parade, followed by two fire engines operated by Fiona Steeves, Steve Wisely, Greg Newman, Isabel Smith and Ben Sore from North Oyster Fire Department, Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP Paul Manly, and the Stz’uminus graduates.

“I’m grateful I had the opportunity to honour the lives of Indigenous children and residential school survivors by driving one of fire trucks in a parade that acknowledged and celebrated the 2021 high school and university graduates of Stz’uminus,” Steeves said.

Cst. Martin added an orange stripe to the stripes on his squad car and a Stz’uminus First Nation decal. Harris said it was a meaningful gesture of solidarity. She wants to see an orange strip added to all RCMP squad cars to represent a commitment from the RCMP to work with Indigenous communities. Manly said that he would share a photo of the stripe with Canada’s Public Safety Minister, Bill Blair.

Harris says she plans to make the parade an annual event.

Read the list of 2021 Stz’uminus graduates below:

Ladysmith Secondary School:

Benjamain George

Charlise Harris

Catherine Sampson

Kadin Gibson

Gage Morris

Ryan Friesen

Stz’uminus Secondary School:

Harvey Jimmie-Louie

Roger Thomas

Erin Seymour

Shylah-Ann Louie

Sheldon Peall

Malakai Page

Samantha Jones

Haley Wells

Craig Seymour

Clarence Thomas

Rita Sampson

Breanna Wilson

Dominic David

Stelly’s Secondary School: Johnny Seymour

Lummi Nation School: Moses Seymour

Vancouver Island University:

Brittany Elliott – Bachelor of Education

Priscilla Seymour – Early Childhood Education Diploma

Adrienne Harris – Bachelor of Education

Roxanne Harris – Master’s in Educational Leadership

Marcus Daniels – Bachelor of Arts in criminology

Celestine Sampson – Health Care Assistant Certificate

Roberta Rice – Health Care Assistant Certificate

Sprott Shaw College:

Ruby Harris – Executive Office Administrator Diploma

Camosun College:

Julie Daniels – Bachelor of Sport and Fitness Leadership