High school graduation is a time of celebration. Often this includes a formal graduation ceremony in cap and gown, dinner, dance and an abundance of photos with family and friends. Strathmore High School has a unique celebration in addition to the traditional graduation ceremony – a Grad Pow Wow.
The Grad Pow Wow is designed to honor the achievement of all Strathmore High students and Siksika students in particular. Siksika Nation, located one hour’s drive east of the city of Calgary, has a population of approximately 6000 members. Siksika are part of the Blackfoot Confederacy which also consists of the Piikani and Kainaiwa of southern Alberta and the Blackfeet in the State of Montana. This year 15 Siksika students were graduating.
This year’s ceremony included a very special guest. Douglas Cardinal, an internationally renowned Canadian architect who is part Blackfoot was in attendance. During the Pow Wow Mr. Cardinal was given a Blackfoot name in a traditional Naming Ceremony performed by one of the Siksika elders. He was also presented with a traditional stand-up headdress.
Special achievements of the school were also recognized. New Blood, the outstanding dance production and the Strathmore AAA Bisons hockey team were recognized and honored for their achievements this year. The Bisons won the provincial and pacific championship and moved on to participate in the national championship at the Telus Cup in Quebec. New Blood is an interdisciplinary dance piece inspired by Making Treaty 7 that explores the idea of reconciliation. Around 75 young Blackfoot students from Strathmore High and their choreographer/teacher Deanne Bertsch devised New Blood which was presented at the Big Secret Theatre in Calgary. The Pow Wow also featured different traditional dance competitions.
Golden Hills School Division Superintendent Bevan Daverne talked about the special relationships between Siksika Board of Education, Golden Hills School Division and Strathmore High School. Principal Reagan commented on the unique challenges many Siksika students face and how special it is to have 15 native students graduating.
We are proud of how our Golden Hills’ schools embrace diversity and encourage students to appreciate both the diversity and similarities of our global traditions.