The school gym was decorated in black, blue and white as proud families smiled with pride, anticipating the grand entrance of one of the largest graduating classes From Tseshaht First Nation’s Haahuupayak School.
The event started with the grand procession of the graduating class to their head table, which had a decorated dugout canoe placed in front of it.
Cultural teacher Trevor Little got things off to a proper start with a prayer chant followed by Principal Nancy Logan’s opening remarks.
Logan introduced herself Nuu-chah-nulth-style, using her own language to tell the people her name, where she’s from and who her parents and grandparents are. It was a pattern followed by each of the graduating students as they demonstrated their knowledge of the Nuu-chah-nulth language and the cultural importance of knowing their roots.
Principal Logan told the crowd that it was an important day to celebrate, acknowledge and honour the achievements of the graduating class, especially after all everyone has been through during two years in isolation because of the pandemic.
“We went two years without gatherings, socializing and mask dancing,” she noted.
Logan told the class that she holds her hands up to them, acknowledging their courage and determination to succeed. She told them that life will give them many gifts and many challenges.
“May you always rise up to the challenges. Congratulations to each of you,” said Logan.
Special guests that evening were five Grade 12 graduates who are Haahuupayak alumni. Two of the former students assisted with emcee duties.
Each graduate then took a turn at the microphone, starting with Braiden Thomas, who introduced himself, stated his age, said where he came from and who his parents and grandparents are, all in the Nuu-chah-nulth language. When he was done, he repeated his speech in English, finishing with, “ I want to thank all those that taught me.”
Dinner was served before certificates were presented to students by Hawiih (hereditary chiefs).
The evening finished off with words of congratulations from the families along with celebratory songs and dances.
The 2022 graduates are: Chaasta Prescott-Qamiina, Luuta Prescott-Qamiina, Evan Lucas, Phyllis Harris, Madison Lucas, Summer Little, Dakota Johnson, Ryder Sieber, Amber Robinson, Maddexx George, Dylan Cartlidge, Vance Clarke Mack, Sebastian Thomas-Joe, Terry Sieber, Taliah Sanderson, Brooklynn Joseph and Braiden Thomas.