Dennis Franklin Cromarty school graduates 24 'resilient' students

Twenty four students at a First Nations high school in Thunder Bay, Ont., have taken the once-in-a-lifetime walk across the stage, and the principal says she couldn't be more proud.

School principal says she's 'so very proud' of the young people walking across the stage

Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School principal Sharon Angeconeb says 24 students graduated in 2018. (Nishnawbe Aski Nation / Twitter)

Twenty four students at a First Nations high school in Thunder Bay, Ont., have taken the once-in-a-lifetime walk across the stage on graduation day, and the principal says she couldn't be more proud.

"They're very resilient, very strong and that's something that we see every day," said Sharon Angeconeb, the principal at Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School. "But then to see the ... accomplishment at the end when they achieve their diplomas, that's something that we all look forward to."

Graduation time is a chance for staff, students, their families and home communities to celebrate the young people's accomplishments, Angeconeb said, adding many families fly in to Thunder Bay from the far north to attend the ceremony.

"Everyone is just super excited about the whole ceremony, but also leading up to it; everything that you need to do to get ready for the ceremony, the shopping for the grad outfit and so on," she said.

This year's graduating class is a little bit smaller than the past couple of years, Angeconeb said, but still a healthy number "considering that we didn't have a high enrolment." She added that it has been a difficult year for students in the city because of renewed concerns over Indigenous students' safety.

Increasingly, families from remote First Nations won't send their children to school in Thunder Bay.

"We all know this past school year, especially last summer, there was a lot of fear in Thunder Bay in regards to the students' safety and so on — rightly so," Angeconeb said.

"But these young people, this group of young people, these graduates, they persevered."

The fact that many families also bring the graduates' younger siblings or nieces and nephews to the ceremony is inspiration for them, too, she said.

"[It's] very important that the little ones see what they can do," Angeconeb said. "The graduates are role-modelling how important it is to get an education."

She said the students are often feted by families and home communities after graduating.

"It's exciting to see them ... cross the stage and get their diplomas."