Ten Indigenous Role Models blanketed and pose for photos 2024 Indigenous Role Models

2024 Indigenous Role Models Honoured at Semá:th (PHOTOS)

May 15, 2024

On April 18, 2024, at the Semá:th First Nation Longhouse, an Honouring Ceremony took place for the 2024 Indigenous Role Models. Organized by the Mamele’awt Community Indigenous Education Centre, the event brought together Indigenous and school district leaders, community members, students and many supporters of the Role Models keen to celebrate their accomplishments.

The ceremony was led by Thiyō:qweltel (Chris Silver), Councillor of Semá:th First Nation, with guidance from Shoysqwelwhet (Dr. Gwendolyn Point) of the Stó:lō Nation. It opened with Xéyteléq (Ray Silver), a leader from the Semá:th First Nation, who provided a traditional welcome to the territory.

Several witnesses were called upon to uphold the special honour. Witnesses play a crucial role in the ceremony, tasked with preserving the essence of the event in their hearts and minds. They are responsible for carrying forward the message of the day and sharing it with friends, neighbours, and the wider community. To prepare the sacred space, Chris Silver invited family members and mentors of the Role Models to lay four blankets on the floor, each layer symbolizing the foundation of a new 'sacred ground.' The Role Models briefly left the longhouse to ready themselves, while the Receivers—those who have significantly supported the Role Models in their personal and academic journeys—were asked to stand by this designated area. Upon their return, each Role Model was wrapped in a blanket, symbolizing a warm embrace, and adorned with a headband to remind them to have good thoughts and a good mind. Drummers and honorees processed to each corner of the longhouse, with Receivers positioning the Role Models on the blankets. Key speakers including Troy Ganzeveld from Semá:th First Nation, Shirley Wilson, Chair of the Abbotsford Board of Education, Sean Nosek, Superintendent of Schools, and Ross Siemens, Mayor of Abbotsford, each shared their reflections, emphasizing the profound impact and significance of the Role Models' contributions.

“As we honour these outstanding young leaders, we are reminded of the profound impact that our role models have within the Abbotsford School District,” said Sean Nosek, Superintendent of Schools. "Each one of them embodies the resilience and spirit of our community. They are not just role models for their peers but for all of us. Their achievements and dedication inspire us to continue nurturing an environment where every student can thrive. In short, their contributions enrich our learning community and pave the way for a brighter, more inclusive future.”

The 2024 Indigenous Role Model Honouring Ceremony was a powerful celebration of Indigenous excellence and resilience. It demonstrated the incredible contribution that Indigenous students continue to make in the Abbotsford School District and emphasized the importance of recognizing and celebrating their achievements.

About the Abbotsford School District’s Indigenous Role Models Program 
In 2002, the Abbotsford School District’s Indigenous Role Models Program was established as a means to celebrate Indigenous graduates who have a purposeful plan beyond graduation. These students are recognized for connecting to their culture, leadership, service in their schools and communities, and for their aspirations towards future goals. To date, approximately 68 students from the school district have been recognized in this program.