By Frank Cooper
MUNSEE-DELAWARE FIRST NATION—The Anishinabek Educational Institute (AEI) Munsee-Delaware Campus held their graduation ceremonies on Friday, June 24, 2016, on the Munsee-Delaware First Nation. The AEI celebrated the accomplishments of 23 graduates from three programs: Forestry Technician, Personal Support Worker, and Social Service Worker – Indigenous Knowledge.
The five Forestry Technician Program graduates include: Apollo Blackeagle and Shownoo Blackbird-Williams from Walpole Island First Nation; and Sarah Deleary, Delbert Fisher, and James French from Chippewa of the Thames.
As a graduate of this program, the student acquired the skills to work effectively in natural resources management; learned traditional forestry skills such as compassing and tree identification, in addition to how to work with ArcMap, GPS, and other high tech software.
There were six Personal Support Worker Program graduates who include: Dorrey Cowell, Bobbi-Lynn Doxtator, Teresa Elijah, Rochelle George, and Kelley Phillips of Oneida Nation of the Thames; and Pearl Neganigwane of Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve.
Graduates of this program have learned to work with the frail, elderly, physically challenged, mothers and newborns, and persons with special needs in long-term care facilities and/or in the community at large. Students have the skills to use lift machines and the body mechanics to ensure clients are moved safely and effectively. Students also learned the appropriate skills to provide emotional, social and spiritual supportive care for clients and their families.
The 12 Social Service Worker – Indigenous Knowledge Program graduates include: Ardith Albert, Mark Deleary, and Lana McGahey of Chippewa of the Thames; Abigail Burch and Michelle Chrisjohn of Oneida Nation of the Thames; Gloria Boutcher of Kettle and Stony Point First Nation; Forry Hare of M’Chigeeng First Nation; Kim McDermott from Windsor, Ontario; Rod Nettagog of Henvy Inlet First Nation; Barb Tabobandung of Wasauksing First Nation; Jordan Tobias from Delaware Nation at Moraviantown; and David White (DJ) of Walpole Island First Nation.
As a graduate of this program, the student emphasized on Indigenous worldview and developed self-awareness and wholistic healing practices so often needed by caregivers and the people they serve. An appreciation for Indigenous culture and the uniqueness of being an Indigenous person are combined with studies that are tailored for a variety of learning styles.
The AEI was honoured to have in attendance Grand Chief Patrick Madahbee, Gary Dokis-Chief Operating Officer, Leroy Dolson-Southwest Regional Elder, Murray Maracle-Education Director and many First Nation Chiefs at the ceremony to participate in the celebrations.
Partnering College Personnel in attendance included: MaryAnn Fader, Chair of the School of Environmental and Natural Sciences and Gerald Guenkel, Forestry Program Coordinator from Fleming College; Mark Benoit, Chair School of Academic Studies and Kathy Hansen, Liaison for AEI Programs St. Clair College; and Mark Gallupe, Social Service Professor at Loyalist College.
Also in attendance was Cindy Baskin, Professor-Faculty of Social Work Department of Ryerson University. Cindy delivered a very strong, emotional and moving keynote address that left everyone in the room with a feeling of accomplishment and determination.
The day began with an eagle feather presentation ceremony for the Social Service Worker-Indigenous Knowledge graduates and was held within the traditional gathering arena of Munsee-Delaware Nation grounds. Afterwards, all graduates were accompanied by family and friends for the diploma presentation portion of the ceremony. The students were led by eagle staff carriers Grand Chief Patrick Madahbee (Anishinabek Nation) and Brian Hill of the Oneida Nation (N’Amerind Friendship Centre). This convocation was one of AEI Munsee-Delaware Campus’ most attended ceremonies in recent. There were about 200 people in attendance.
Many thanks to the AEI team of Staff and Faculty in making special events like this possible. Everyone’s hard work and input into these programs was very evident this day. The AEI wishes all of the families and friends a blessed journey and please do stop in for a visit whenever.
“The Anishinabek Education Institute is mandated by the Anishinabek General Assembly (Res 94/13), to provide quality education and training programs for First Nation Anishinabek communities. The Anishinabek Educational Institute will provide community based programming which will better prepare the student success in an ever changing world.
The mission shall always be by and for Anishinabek People; at our pleasure, at our pace, and by our own standards.”