Oct 23, 2019
It was a great honour to be invited to this year’s Adult Basic Education (ABE) Level IV graduation on May 27, 2019 in Saskatoon. Over 100 people, including families, friends, and spouses, were there on a beautiful spring day. It was heartwarming seeing young children and ‘Old Ones’ beaming with pride as the names of the 17 graduates were called.
The Class of 2019 included James Alexander, Rita Marie Bird, Priscilla Blunt, Contara Bueckert, Kayla-Rai Chunyk, KC Dubois, Josette Dunn, Marissa Favel, Morgan Geering, Jenna Giesbrecht, Alaina Greenlaw, Kayla Harder, Samantha Kachur, Martha Petite, Maria Reddekopp, Cheyeanna Tourand, and Lanie Werminsky.
Cindy LaPlante, a faculty member in the ABE program, invited Contara Bueckert to give the Valedictorian Speech. It was silence as Contara’s soft voice and powerful speech filled the room. She noted that though it was good to graduate with a high school diploma, the “experience meant more than just graduating with Grade 12.” With generous with accolades, Contara described her teachers as “incredible, encouraging, and an inspiring influence” in her life noting that the teachers did “so much more than teaching.”
A similar message was repeated by Priscilla Blunt and Alaina Greenlaw who gave a ‘Thank You’ speech to acknowledge those who helped them along their journey to graduation.
As the ABE Program Coordinator Marilyn Black noted in her speech, graduation is a moment of pride, of looking back and recognizing that despite the sometimes challenging days, victory is possible. Graduation is also an opportunity for a new beginning.
As the graduates were celebrating their achievements, many also shared their plans for the future. Almost all of them had started the process of transitioning to higher education.
Rita Marie Bird will be returning to Dumont Technical Institute to start the continuing care assistant program in September. Samantha Kachur and Alaina Greenlaw have applied to the Dumont Technical Institute practical nursing program and are hopeful that they will get admission.
Morgan Geering has been accepted in the continuing care assistant program at North West College in North Battleford, while James Alexander has been admitted to the power engineering program at the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technology (SIIT).
Marissa Favel will be continuing her studies in the fall at the Saskatchewan Polytechnic for a two-year diploma program in hotel and restaurant management. Priscilla Blunt will also be attending Saskatchewan Polytechnic to pursue studies in the early childhood education program.
Cheyeanna Tourand had a compelling story of resilience, determination, and strength. She noted: “I attended Dumont Technical Institute five years ago and this year, I decided I was ready mentally and determined to graduate.” Cheyeanna has been accepted in the MC College hairstyling program in Saskatoon. “I plan to get my journeyperson hairstylist certification so I can fuse my freelance make-up artistry and hairstyling together and own my own beauty business.”
Some of the ABE graduates will be joining university in the fall. Contara will start her journey to becoming a teacher at the Saskatchewan Urban Native Teacher Education Program (SUNTEP) Saskatoon. Lanie Werminsky will be pursuing a social work degree at the First Nations University of Canada.
It was very encouraging that these individuals who had left k-12 system before graduating – having been pushed out of school by barriers that too often impede the success of Indigenous students in our province – earn their high school diplomas and are ready to transition to the next chapter of their careers. They know who they are, and what they want. All they needed was an educational environment that recognized their strengths and funds of knowledge that they – and every student – possess. An education environment that is caring, challenging, and affirms their cultures and identities.
As many of the graduates said, Dumont Technical Institute was ‘that’ education environment. These comments included: “DTI provided me with a lot of support. It helped” (James Alexander); “DTI showed me that I was capable of actually working towards a career to support my future” (Kayla Harder); “I am very grateful to have been a student at DTI” (Morgan Geering); “DTI gave me the extra help I needed” (Josette Dunn); “DTI has the most amazing instructors I’ve ever met. No matter the situation, there is always someone there willing to help me get through anything” (Samantha Kachur).
Other comments by the graduates included: “DTI is like a second family to me. I’ll be sad to leave. I didn’t think I’d graduate, but having the support and the teachers not giving up on me made me feel like someone cared” (Jenna Giesbrecht); “DTI had a lot of resources to help us reach our goals. The teachers were supportive and understanding, and my employment counsellor was a huge help in enabling me to establish my goals and reach them” (Cheyeanna Tourand); “We had cultural day every end of the month where we learned something new about Métis culture” (Marissa Favel).
Dumont Technical Institute instructors, Janelle Duplessis, Brian Vass, and David Werner, and staff, including Kristi Ross and Abby Pelletier, were also present at the graduation ceremony.