Every year, Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre (FDASC), on behalf of the university, the Aboriginal Council of Queen’s University (ACQU) and the Vice-Provost and Dean of Student Affairs, presents graduating self-identified Aboriginal students with special gifts during their convocation ceremonies (Spring and Fall).
Aboriginal students face many barriers and challenges while attending post-secondary institutions. Culture differences, retention and transition issues, and low high school and university graduation rates are just a few obstacles they have to overcome. It is imperative to acknowledge and recognize these students as potential role models for young Aboriginal students who wish to pursue further education. In honour of their accomplishments as Aboriginal graduates of Queen’s University, they are gifted with a Creation Turtle Pendleton Blanket.
The Creation Turtle blanket was selected because the animal plays a role in many Aboriginal cultures, representing Mother Earth/Turtle Island. Following convocation the Aboriginal graduates are invited back to FDASC to put their handprint on the canvass wall hangings, along with their name, program, year of graduation and community, leaving their mark on Queen’s in perpetuity.
As a graduate of ATEP 2012, I felt very honoured to receive a blanket at convocation. To be recognized as an Anishinaabe at such a formal event. It felt good to be recognized as an Anishnaabe graduate. I felt so honoured, it made me cry. Miigwetch and keep this tradition going. It will assist Anishnaabe people to be proud graduates of the future. Miigwetch
Tracy Kabatay, Seine River First Nation, ATEP Graduate (Dip.Ed. 2012)