Jun 14, 2017
By Janice R. Thompson
The Saskatchewan Urban Native Teacher Education Program (SUNTEP) Regina held its 35th annual graduation ceremony on Friday, May 5, 2017 in Regina. This year’s graduation theme is Gee mochikihtawnawn sur li shmaen d’icole. Lii boon choer kee wiichihiwewuk or “Celebrating the Road to Success, with Kindness along the Way.” The well-attended event celebrated the achievements of the graduates Taylor Frei and Venus Kay.
With unprecedented weather surrounding us, the graduates, Taylor Frei and Venus Kay, shared stories about their academic, community and personal experiences during their journey to earning Bachelor of Education degrees. The graduates talked about their pre-service teacher training experiences and paid tribute to their cooperating teachers. The evening’s guest speakers included Chelsie Sinclair, a 2016 SUNTEP Regina graduate and current grade two teacher with Regina Catholic Schools.
Heart-warming, were the reflective memories of Taylor Frei’s journey to reclaiming his Indigeneity. Equipped with knowledge and resources through the kindness of others, Taylor consistently spoke of the Métis community, and the experiences of developing lifelong relationships with an array of peers and community members. Further to this, Taylor shared how “the high expectations and standards held in the SUNTEP Regina program encouraged him to constantly push [him]self to become a better person, and for [his] students, and within the community.” Taylor’s gratitude is testimonial evidence to the importance of SUNTEP, connecting past, to present, and into the future. Currently, Taylor is waiting a callback with Regina Public Schools for the fall; all the best on your next road to success.
Equally moving, Venus Kay shared her unforgettable memories. With a box of Kleenex nearby, Venus spoke of how proud she was to be in the program. How the unwavering kindness of her peers during her pre-service student teacher training remained her fondest memories. Through her tears, Venus reflected on her eight babies, and how busy she was. “I had many late nights and many early mornings. Sometimes I wouldn’t even sleep. I had to go-go-go. Many times I thought to just give up and do something else, but I didn’t. My peers told me I was an inspiration to them. This drove me to push forward, to be where I am today!” Simply put, confirmation of the SUNTEP ‘family’ support, contributing to student success. Venus is currently awaiting callbacks from school divisions in Saskatoon and area.
As the evening flowed, smiles, laughter, and tears remained ever present. Family members, guests, dignitaries, students, and staff shared congratulatory sentiments. Speakers included GDI Executive Director Geordy McCaffrey, GDI Board of Governors representative Collette Robertson, Dean of the Faculty of Education, University of Regina Dr. Jennifer Tupper, and Métis Elders Norma Welsh and Joe Welsh.
Special awards were presented to the students and graduates. These included the Lebret Métis Cultural Days Scholarship to Year One student Brandon Cardinal; the Spirit of SUNTEP Award was presented to Taylor Frei; and the David Amyotte Award to Venus Kay.
Entertainment was provided by Métis fiddler Nathaniel Baker, Thom Collegiate High School First Nation Drum Group, Napewsak; and Seven Stones Jigging Group, led by SUNTEP Regina alumnae Alison Kimbley and Cassie Fisher.
As the evening drew to a close, we all felt the sense of pride for our graduates. Hugs, handshakes, and tears dominated the end of the program. Once again, reminding us, that “Celebrating the Road to Success, with Kindness along the Way” remains foundational in SUNTEP Regina program.
GDI Executive Director, Geordy McCaffrey
(All photos below, taken by Brenna Pacholko)