Hargina Birdi and Nate Pierre’s Valedictory address, started with a very important observation:
”One thing in particular that stands out about our grade is that slightly more than one third of us have Aboriginal heritage.”
“We are very proud of this fact. Many Aboriginal students struggle academically as a result of the lasting effects of residential school and the assimilation policy. So its quite moving to see all of us here today despite the odds set against us.”
They then acknowledged two very valuable staff “who have significantly contributed to bringing the students together over the past ten years; Irene Antoine and Shirley Pierre maintain a meaningful connection to First Nations Culture for our fellow students. Their dedication to plan and organise, bake and serve bannock every Thursday is not only a treat for us but represents a dedication to an education system that was not always fair to them.
Hargina and Nate presented them each with a bouquet of flowers as a small token of gratitude to honour their work in the school. This presentation was followed by loud applause before Nate continued:
“From cheery breakfast helpers and staff smiling in the hallways, the catch up chats with the custodians at the end of the day, this school has always felt like a safe haven.”
Hargina added some insider humour about certain teachers which made the audience respond with laughter. She continued “All joking aside, no matter how much guidance at our school we get, none of us are perfect and we all continue to make mistakes and we are forced to deal with those consequences on our own.” Then Nate provided a quote by Nikola Tesla:
“Our virtues and our failings are inseparable, like force and matter. When they separate, man is no more.”
“Our greatest failure can lead to our greatest success. That is only if we will it into reality.”
The two graduates spoke about the resilience of their grade class, how students faced challenges and likened their growth journey to tripping over rocks thrown in their path, falling, but then getting up again to overcome adversity despite not knowing what lies ahead.
“We may have had help along the way, but we ourselves have had the most say in whether or not we succeed.” said Hargina and then she quoted Budha:
“No one saves us but ourselves, no one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.”
The valedictorians encouraged their fellow students saying “Each person that sits before us carries passion and the ability to succeed. In the years to come we will be able to say that we graduated with future advocates, trailblazers and entrepreneurs.”
Nearing the conclusion of their address they shared one final quote “from the greatest of all time, the GOAT”, Michael Jordan:
“Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it or work around it.”
“The struggles we face and ambition to resolve it on our own helped shape us to be the hard working young adults that we are today, and pushed us towards mastering our individual achievements.
“There is no doubt in our mind that we will go on to do great things.” And it was almost in answer to Mr. Manu Nadhok’s advice to ‘Pay It Forward’ that Hargina and Nate concluded, “It is our hope that those great things we do benefit not only ourselves but those around us as well.”
“We all have the potential to succeed as we have already proven that we can by getting to where we are today.”
– Editor’s note: Thank you Hargina Birdi and Nate Pierre for your wonderfully wise and inspirational words. Congratulations to all 2017 Graduates!