Garden River Graduates back row: Carol Jones, Helena Jones, Alice Corbiere, Grace Nagy. Front: Noel Jones and Bill Pine.

Garden River Graduates back row: Carol Jones, Helena Jones, Alice Corbiere, Grace Nagy. Front: Noel Jones and Bill Pine.

By Margaret Hele

SAULT STE. MARIE – Graduates from the Bay Mills Nishnaabemwin Pane Immersion Program received their diplomas at the Bay Mills Community College Commencement Ceremony on Friday, May15.

Carol Jones was honoured by the Bay Mills Indian Community and Community College.  She was presented with a plaque for her dedication, commitment and outstanding achievement in preserving and perpetuating the Anishinaabe Language through her learning and acquisition .

“When I started I didn’t have a clue what I was doing here ( at the language class),” said Jones. ” I was almost in tears for I didn’t understand a thing.”

“By Christmas time I had begun to understand,” said Jones. “Understanding the prayers of the elders was the highlight of taking the language for me. It made it all worthwhile.”

The keynote speaker, D.J. “Eagle Bear” Vanas gave a powerful inspiring speech. D.J. included the students by asking them what was most important to them. Their answers were family, friends, themselves and knowledge. He spoke how each response was very important and gave encouraging words to all. D.J. spoke of his own perseverance and determination . For when he was a youngster he had a speech impediment which he overcame by his determination, and the help and support of his family and friends. D.J.’s mission is to build the warriors of tomorrow – today.

A feast followed the graduation ceremony at Migzi Hall . Michele Trudel so proud of her students and the program of which she is the head was very emotional when she said a few words to honour the instructors and students for their participation and dedication. Gifts were then presented to the instructors and the students.