Skidegate celebrates 2020 grads with button blanket ceremony

The Skidegate Band Council celebrated graduates of 2020 on Saturday, June 27 with a button blanket ceremony that included Haida singing, drumming and speeches. The custom-made button blankets that were presented to the graduating students are pictured in this submitted photo. (Roberta Aiken/Byrds Eye View Photography)
The Skidegate Band Council celebrated graduates of 2020 on Saturday, June 27 with a button blanket ceremony that included Haida singing, drumming and speeches. The custom-made button blankets that were presented to the graduating students are pictured in this submitted photo. (Roberta Aiken/ Byrds Eye View Photography)

The Skidegate Band Council celebrated grads of 2020 on Saturday (June 27) with a beautiful button blanket ceremony.

After opening words from Tracy Hageman on behalf of the band council, graduating students Teniel Houston, Tyson Jones, Bailey McDonald, Jacey Pollard, Trey Rorick, Lyndsay Russ, Schon Sjolund and Olivia Wilson were introduced along with their family members and plans for the future, from travel and business school to training in mechanics and Indigenous studies.

Students Melva Collinson-Young, Taylor Lund, Dustin Davidson, Jordyn Sankey, Dawson Sterritt and Chayla Williams were also graduating and sent their regrets.

VIDEO: Haida Gwaii high school grads celebrate with drive-in ceremony, parade

MC Gyahgujaang Robert Russ led the ceremony, which included Haida drumming and singing, and the presentation of button blankets that were custom-made for each student.

Teniel Houston’s blanket was made by Nina Williams with a two-fin killer whale design done by Terry Williams.

Tyson Jones’ blanket was made by grandma Bubbles, aunty Michelle and his mom, and the Raven design was done by his late cousin Jesse Jones.

Wally Pelton and Norina Gladstone made Bailey McDonald’s blanket. The design, done by Wally Pelton, is a five-fin killer whale with a bentwood box as well as an Eagle and Raven to represent her chinaay Donk.

For Jacey Pollard, Wilson Brown and her aunty Tara made a blanket with a butterfly spreading it wings, and Raven borders representing her clan were also done by Wilson Brown.

Trey Rorick, who made a speech during the ceremony as the Haida grad class representative, received a blanket made by his aunty Dolly as well as sisters Raven and Loni. The design of the Wasgo, or supernatural Sea-Wolf, was done by his sister Raven.

ALSO READ: Haida UBC grad awarded prestigious academic honour

Lyndsay Russ’ blanket was also made by Nina Williams, and buttons were done by Leah Russ and Ross Kakuschke. The wolf design was done by Clayton Gladstone.

Schon Sjolund’s blanket was designed by his dad, Wilson Brown (Gidhaagans) and sewn by his mom, Tara (Jaad Haana). It is a Wasgo design for his love of ocean creatures with Raven borders to represent his clan motifs and dreams to become a marine biologist.

Last but not least, Olivia Wilson’s blanket was made by Wally Pelton and Norina Gladstone, and the black bear holding a rainbow person design was also done by Wally Pelton.

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According to the program, grads from the “Kyahlgwa Sk’aadga” distributed learning school within Gid Galang Kuuyas Naay Secondary School were Nathan Brooks, Teresa Russ, Madison Brown and Leah Walker.

Off-island students acknowledged during the ceremony included Tyler Jones, who graduated from Charles Hayes Senior Secondary in Prince Rupert, Naomi Kuhn, who graduated from West Seattle High School, and Warner Hyndman, who graduated from Port Hardy Secondary School.

Post-secondary grads were Trystan Boyko, who completed her BSc in Marine Biology at the Hawaii Pacific University, Kostan Levirs, who completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics with a minor in Business at the University of Victoria, and Michaela McGuire, who completed her Masters in Criminology at Simon Fraser University.

Gwaganad Diane Brown closed the ceremony with a prayer.

ALSO READ: ‘Priceless’ grad dress handmade by Okanagan teen’s grandma stolen

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