Pelican Falls First Nations High School celebrates 2019 graduates
Jesse Bonello - Staff Writer
Pelican Falls First Nations High School (PFFNHS) honoured and celebrated its 2019 graduating class on May 14. This year’s graduating class saw 29 students receive diplomas.
During the graduation ceremony, students heard speeches from area leaders, including Lac Seul First Nation Chief Derek Maud and Sioux Lookout Mayor Doug Lawrance.
The Valedictory Address was written and presented by Cornell Meekis.
During closing remarks, PFFNHS Principal Solomon Kakagamic shared that this year has been one of the school’s most successful years academically.
“Last semester, we had 98 percent credit accumulation. I just did the stats this morning and, this semester, we had 98 percent credit accumulation again. Not only that, for the first time we had 52 kids on honour roll this semester,” said Kakagamic.
“This has been a real successful year, and I’m looking forward to next year. Next year will also bring a change. Due to the success of our applied program, we’re going to be introducing academic stream next year. We’re going to take the next step,” he added.
“It’s amazing, and they travel a lot. To achieve that, with their busy lives as students, it’s quite amazing,” shared PFFNHS senior English teacher Sylvia Davis.
When asked how she would describe this year’s group of graduates, Davis said they were a joy to be around and work with.
“They’re so fun. I had the privilege of teaching most of them, all but two this year, as a senior English teacher, so it was a very proud moment to see them walk in and to actually introduce them as they were walking in. They’re a fun group,” she concluded.
The Pelican Falls First Nations High School class of 2019 consists of: Eleanor Suzannah Haley Beardy (Bearskin Lake), Micah Anthony Beardy (Muskrat Dam), Darius Riel Beardy-Kanakakessic (Weagamow), Faith Charity Bilkowski-Meekis (Deer Lake), Melody Eliza Chikane (Weagamow), Brandon Hosea Childforever (Wunnumin), Daisy Amber Rainbow Kakegamic (Sandy Lake), Kristin Cassandra Blossom Kakekagumick (North Spirit Lake), Shinae Quinan Kaminawaish (Mishkeegogamang), Tamara Lindsay Kaminawaish (Mishkeegogamang), Anawdon Gabrielle Karen Keeash (Weagamow), Angelia Lyne Kwandibens (Mishkeegogamang), Flora Jade Kwandibens (Mishkeegogamang), Keenan Tyrell Brolin Kwandibens (Mishkeegogamang), Leneya Bluejewel Mason (Keewaywin), Charity Marcella McKay (Sachigo), Wahjahkoos Katie Marlena McKay (Fort Severn), Benjamin Donovan Trent Meekis (Deer Lake), Cornell Power Tycon Meekis (Keewaywin), Draven Meekis (Sandy Lake), Ennis Jordan Meekis (Deer Lake), Jared Cole Maximus Meekis (Deer Lake), Marie Cecily Meekis (Deer Lake), Kishiah Rochelle Oombash (Cat Lake), Checotah Kaminawaish Powless (Mishkeegogamang), Malachi George Leo Rae (Deer Lake), Paula Tanoshia Christianna Rae (Deer Lake), Penelope Renee Victoria Roundhead (Weagamow), and Brayden Jace Wabason (Slate Falls).
Pelican Falls First Nations High School Valedictorian Address
Cornell Meekis - PFFNHS Valedictorian
I’d like to welcome everyone here today at this ceremonious event for us graduates of 2019.
We began high school as children, but we’re leaving here as young adults. We’ve completed a basic education that will serve as the platform we use to launch ourselves into our futures. Some of us will go to college, others will go straight into the workforce, but each of us will travel our own path.
No matter where we go or what we do, there are challenges ahead of us. What I’m asking from each of you, and from myself, is to meet those challenges straight on with your head held high and your heart wide open. It’s not enough to simply try to get by in life. That doesn’t move the world forward. You must try to excel in everything you do; strive for excellence in every task, large or small.
Although it may not be easy to see, every accomplishment you achieve is added to the world’s accomplishments. Your individual successes benefit society as a whole because when you succeed, you lighten the burden on your fellow man. When you succeed, you are in a position to give rather than take.
I remember a couple times as a freshman, I would sneak out of class without a hall pass, being all sneaky seeing my buddies, then the moment I hear Solomon’s big boots stomping down from the hallway, I’d be like ‘oh no’ and just go hide, then later Solomon would catch me hiding.
Imagine if every individual lived up to his or her own potential. Think about how amazing that would be and how much better off the world would be. Now imagine if just half of those individuals lived up to their potential. The world would still be an awesome place. If even one quarter of those individuals worked to make their lives successful, they could still make some amazing contributions to society.
Well, we may not have the power to inspire the entire world to strive for success, but we do have the power to try to achieve it for ourselves. My challenge to each of you, and to myself, is to do all you can do to reach your full potential. If each of the 29 students in this graduating class is able to do that, just imagine the effect that would have. The future is truly in our hands, so let’s make the most of it.
To end this off, I’d like to congratulate the graduates and myself for accomplishing this milestone.
Pelican Falls First Nations High School graduation awards
Pelican Falls Memorial Awards
Paul Panacheese Humanitarian Award (leadership, compassion, helping others)
Anawdon Keeash - Weagamow
Reggie Bushie Hockey Award (expert skills in hockey)
Checotah Powless - Mishkeegogamang
Reggie Bushie Art Award (expert skills in art)
Paula Rae - Deer Lake
Robyn Rose Academic Award (academic prowess)
Penelope Roundhead - Weagamow
Jethro Anderson Academic Award (academic prowess)
Kristin Kakegamic - North Spirit Lake
Jethro Anderson Language Award (expertise in the language)
Brandon Childforever - Wunnumin
(93 % average in 30 high school courses)
Education Director’s Award
Executive Director’s Award
Marcel James Angeconeb Memorial Award
Charity McKay & Brandon Childforever
Seventh Generation Memorial Scholarship 2019
Ontario Power Generation Awards
Charity McKay & Darius Beardy-Kanakekessic
Thunder Bay Broom and Chemical
Keenan Kwandibens & Tamara Kaminawaish
Meno Ya Win Bursary
New Life Assembly Barnabas Award
Kwayaciiwin Aboriginal Language & Culture Award
Tikinagan Bursary 2019