Yukon First Nations celebrate record graduating class
'It feels like this is the moment, this is where I should be right now'
Yukon First Nations have been holding their own graduation ceremony for four decades. This year there were 132 aboriginal high school graduates from 26 First Nations — a record number.
"First Nations' graduation has come a long way in the past 40 years," said grad organizer Kim Rumley. "Many instrumental people in the Yukon had amazing impacts on First Nations education in the territory."
At Friday's ceremony in Whitehorse, graduates came in accompanied by traditional drummers. Most were dressed in traditional or traditionally-inspired garment, making the event about fashion as well as marking their achievement.
Blayde Tibbet of the Daylu Dena Council in Lower Post, B.C. wore a moosehide vest presented to him on Graduation Day. He says graduation was "a journey" and he is glad he returned to school to earn his diploma.
For aspiring photographer Naomi Geddes Helm, Friday's graduation was an important moment. "It's really inspiring and makes me happy to be First Nations," she said. "I'm just proud of who we are."
"It feels like this is the moment, this is where I should be right now," said Malachi Lavalee of Whitehorse. "I am glad that the future generation and everybody is realizing that graduating is important. We need to make a future for ourselves."