Thousands gather at U of S for graduation powwow

A special graduation ceremony at the University of Saskatchewan on Wednesday featured not caps and gowns but drums, singing and dancing.

Event builds sense of belonging for Indigenous students, say organizers

Dancers, drummers and singers of all ages are taking part in the University of Saskatchewan's annual graduation powwow. They've been doing this for more than five years. (Chanss Lagaden/CBC)

A special graduation ceremony at the University of Saskatchewan on Wednesday featured not caps and gowns but drums, singing and dancing.

The annual U of S graduation powwow brings together hundreds of graduating university and high school students from more than two dozen schools. Joining with them in celebration is thousands of other Indigenous students of all ages from across the province.

"You know this is a very large, very public gathering and it's a real demonstration of the university's commitment to Indigenous engagement and student success," said Graeme Joseph with the Aboriginal Students' Centre at the U of S.

Finding community 

Milo Cameron, who is graduating from the U of S with a degree in drama, came to the university from a small high school and recalled being overwhelmed when he arrived in Saskatoon. That is, until he started meeting other Indigenous students and began to feel a sense of community.

Cameron said this powwow sends a clear message to younger students who are in attendance: "Yes, you can persevere and you can achieve your dreams here at the U of S."

His message to freshman Indigenous students this fall is simple: Find your community, then stay focused.

"Stay true to yourself. You know what your dream is," he said.