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32 new Indigenous Concordia graduates look to the future

The Aboriginal Student Resource Centre celebrates their university careers with a special ceremony
June 12, 2018
By Christian Durand

Concordia celebrated the accomplishments of 32 First Nations, Inuit and Métis graduates during the sixth annual Indigenous Student Graduation Gathering on June 7.

The university’s Aboriginal Student Resource Centre (ASRC) hosted the ceremony. Elder-in-residence Vicky Boldo kicked things off by leading students, staff, faculty, friends and family in a prayer song that encouraged those in attendance to come together as one large family.
Orenda Boucher-Curotte, coordinator of the ASRC, encouraged graduates to reflect on what they will bring back to their home communities as they take the next steps on their journey.

“You are the future leaders in the process of decolonization,” Boucher-Curotte said.

After several speeches from Concordia administrators and special guests, the students received their ceremonial stoles and were given the opportunity to say a few words.

Afterwards, three of the new graduates took a few moments to reflect on their time at Concordia and their plans for the future.

‘I’m trying to build up my own power and knowledge’

Bailey Watson

Bachelor of Arts, Human Environment

What were some of the highlights from your Concordia experience?

BW: What sticks out is how connected I was to the Concordia community. Whether it was at the ASRC or as president of the Indigenous Student Council, I really felt like I belonged.

I also had professors in my department who visited my community before, so they had an idea of where I came from. One actually brought bannock to class!

What’s next?

BW: I’ve started working full-time as a project manager for the First Nations and Inuit branch of Youth Fusion, a charity that connects youth with innovative experiential learning opportunities. Promoting education and supporting future leaders are two passions of mine, so this is a really great first step in my career.

Gage Diabo

MA, English Literature

What were some of the highlights from your Concordia experience?

GD: I was lucky enough to participate in the interview process for a professor in Indigenous literature in my department. This experience was exciting because it’s what I specialized in. I also really liked being a teaching assistant because it gave me the opportunity to engage with undergraduate students

Living in Montreal was amazing. It’s a big city but it’s also small in some ways. Montreal is very much my speed.

What’s next?

GD: I’m off to Vancouver to start my doctorate in Indigenous Literature at the University of British Colombia. As I continue on my academic journey, it’s really about maintaining balance. As a First Nations student in a white man’s institution, I’m trying to build up my own power and knowledge while still creating a connection to my own community.

William Mesher

Graduate Diploma, Visual Journalism

WM: What were some of the highlights from your Concordia experience?

I came to Concordia after turning 60 years old and already having completed three university degrees. After working for the Makivik Corporation in Nunavik for 23 years, I wanted to get back into journalism in order to tell stories.

Visual journalism at Concordia allowed me to tell stories from an Inuit perspective. The program is very challenging and intense, and it places a strong emphasis on the importance of facts and quality. This is super important in this age of fake news.

What’s next?

WM: I’m at a stage in my life where I will freelance and do some contract work. From now on, I onIy want to tell stories of contemporary Inuit realities.

Discover Concordia’s Indigenous Directions.


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