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.
“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:
Stz’uminus Secondary School:
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
Julie Daniels – Bachelor of Sport and Fitness Leadership