Heather WolfEar and Jeremy Smith were named School District 27’s First Nations role models for 2013 during a ceremony honouring all of the role model nominees held at Williams Lake Secondary School.
Prior to announcing the winners all of the nominees were escorted into the gymnasium by a friend or family member who walked with them around the gym as their nomination letters were read.
The nominees this year are Sheyanne Setah-Turatus, Shemica Harry, Christina Sam, Courtney Zwack, Heather WolfEar, Jerissa Charleyboy, Rae Alphonse, Denelle Noskiye, Jillian Thomson, Loretta Jeff-Combs, Jeremy Smith.
Heather McKenzie, education manager for Williams Lake Indian Band welcomed visitors to the Shuswap Territory.
The traditional opening included presentations in the three First Nations languages taught in the district: Jeanie Robbins and student Faith Rosette speaking in Shuswap; SD 27 trustee Joyce Cooper speaking in Chilcotin; and SD 27 Carrier language teacher Susan Hance speaking in Carrier.
Jerome Beauchamp, master of ceremonies and director of instruction, education services also spoke in French.
Words of encouragement and praise were also given by Superintendent Mark Thiessen, Chief Joe Alphonse and Trustee Joyce Cooper on behalf of board Chair Will Van Osch.
Outgoing 2012 role models Kasey Stirling and James Evans gave their farewell speeches and a thank you song was performed for them by Gary Stieman with various chiefs and band members joining in with their drums.
Kasey and James crowned the new 2013 role models and put blankets around them.
Gary Stieman cleansed the retiring role models and the two new role models.
He blessed the Eagle Feathers that were presented to the new 2013 role models as well as the tobacco pouches given out by the incoming role models.
The pouches were made by teacher Patsy Grinder and her students.
Gary Stieman explained the four colours on the wall, from where First Nations people draw direction in life.
The new role models were presented with large role model posters to keep and their bookmarks to give out, a certificate signed by Superintendent Mark Thiessen, Jerome Beauchamp, director of instruction, education services; David DeRose, district principal of First Nations education and board chair Will Van Osch.
The new role models each also receive a $500 bursary for educational purposes.
There was a blanket dance. An honour song was performed by Gary Stieman accompanied by lots of wonderful drumming.
First Nations Chiefs in attendance included Chief Joe Alphonse from Anaham Band (Tl’etinqox-T’in), Chief Roger William from Xeni Gwet’in First Nation.
There was a feast and cake following the cultural festivities. Karen Alexandre from Williams Lake Indian Band gave the blessing for the food.
Shaw Cable was in attendance and coverage is expected to be shown on Cable 10 over the month ahead.