Ambition is the Path to Success

The 2016-2017 Wiikwemkoong High School Award recipients were feted at the 19th Annual Christmas Gala. photos by Gisele Aiabens

Wiikwemkoong High School celebrates its 2016-2017 award recipients at 19th annual Christmas Gala

WIIKWEMKOONG—The Wikwemikong High School 19th Annual Christmas Gala was held on December 1 where close to 50 awards were handed out at the dinner and awards banquet honouring the best and brightest of the 2016-17 school year.

Family and friends gathered for the celebration which began with a welcoming song by Abigail Aiabens and Brandy Peltier. Rosemary Wakegijig then provided a prayer before the lovely dinner prepared by Hiawatha’s Catering.

Jillian Peltier, Wiikwemkoong High School guidance counsellor and athletics director, was the evening’s MC. In her opening remarks, Ms. Peltier recounted how a much smaller group of staff and students came together 19 years ago, in 1999, to establish the vision for the high school, which emphasized two key qualities: pride and excellence. She spoke about how the students being honoured at the awards banquet “are true visions of those keys of the high school’s vision” and that their names, engraved on the award plaques that grace the halls of the high school, “will become a permanent part of the high school’s history.” She took time to thank all the award sponsors as well as the many friends and family members who “allow the award recipients to excel.”

Among the evening’s award recipients was Moses Pitawanakwat, who received The Manitoulin Expositor award, which is presented to a student in a workplace pathway with the highest achievement in a workplace English course. In addition to The Manitoulin Expositor award, Moses, who recently won a scholarship to Canadore College for business as a result of being on the winning Enterprise Olympics 2017 team in the Mining, Forestry and Agriculture sector, was also awarded the Wikwemikong Board of Education English Scholar Award for a Senior. Moses expressed his gratitude for receiving the two awards and said that it “feels good to be acknowledged.”

Moses Pitawanakwat was not only the recipient of the Manitoulin Expositor Award for highest marks in a Workplace English course and the
Wiikwemkoong Board of Education English
Scholar Award, but also received a scholarship to Canadore College for business as a result of being on the winning Enterprise Olympics 2017 team in the Mining, Forestry and Agriculture sector, and was awarded the Wikwemikong Board of
Education English Scholar Award for a Senior.

It was also a proud night for Julia Wemigwans whose grandson, Carlos Wemigwans, was awarded the Anishnaabemowin Award for demonstrating achievement and fluency in a Native Language Course. Ms. Wemigwans, who raised Carlos, spoke to him in the language as much as she could. Carlos explained that as part of his course work he created a workbook for young children which included every day conversational words and numbers as well as matching games and crosswords. Carlos said that he feels the award gives him “more confidence to speak the language” and provides inspiration to keep speaking the language.

In a very touching moment Ms. Peltier presented the Mackenzie Nodin Peltier Award, which is in memoriam of her son Mackenzie, who she described as always being a brave and happy little boy in the face of his illness. The award is presented annually to a student who demonstrates resilience and perseverance. Ms. Peltier was pleased to present the 2017 award to recipient Thunder Recollet.

To end the evening, Robin Wemigwans—mother of Annie Wemigwans—took the stage to accept nine awards on behalf of Annie. Annie was unable to make it to the awards ceremony due to an exam that day at Nipissing University where she now studies Science and Nursing since graduating from Wiikwemkoong High School in June.

In a very inspirational and moving acceptance speech, Ms. Wemigwans spoke of Annie’s journey to becoming a multiple award-winning scholar, which wasn’t always an easy journey. Because of challenges faced at school in the city, Ms. Wemigwans wanted Annie to attend high school in Wiikwemkoong and benefit from “being around her people, her culture, her language” and thus asked her mother, Julia Wemigwans, to take Annie in while she attended Wiikwemkoong High School. Mrs. Wemigwans agreed to take Annie in and so began her journey at Wikwemikong High School where she flourished and excelled in all areas. Ms. Wemigwans attributes the community to her daughter’s growth and held Annie up as a true exemplar of the adage that it takes a community to raise a child. She told the audience that “Annie knows and understands that her accomplishments are attributed to everyone in our community” and that it is the community that keeps her going, including the teachers who taught her while in Wiikwemkoong.

Ms. Wemigwans ended her speech by impressing to the young award recipients that, as the evening’s motto goes, ‘ambition is the path to success;’ that they are the best they can be; they ought not to give up on any endeavours they wish to pursue; and that they will indeed find success if they strive for it.

The awards ceremony ended with an honour song sung by Ms. Aiabens and Ms. Peltier followed by closing remarks from Wikwemikong High School Principal Mick Staruck, who expressed his pride in all of the recipients and thanked all who attended the celebration.

The complete list of awards and recipients for the evening are as follows:

The Intermediate Canada and the World Award, sponsored by John and Jennifer Capin, for students with the highest achievement in history or law courses was presented to both Symone Peltier and Charisma Staruck who were tied for the highest grade in history,

The Business Award, sponsored by Enaadmaagehjik, for the student with the highest achievement in a business course, was awarded to David Jackson.

The Hospitality Award, sponsored by Enaadmaagehjik, for a student with the highest achievement in a hospitality and tourism course, was presented to Charisma Staruck.

The Trades Award, sponsored by Enaadmaagehjik, presented to the student with the highest achievement in a trades related course was awarded to Reynold Assiniwe.

The Media Award, sponsored by Enaadmaagehjik, presented to the student with the highest achievement in a media related course was awarded to Grey Neganegijig and Amber Smith.

The Wikwemikong Heritage Organization Art Award presented to a student who demonstrates excellent skill and technique in all art forms was awarded to Junior Annie Wemigwans and Senior Tessa Ominika.

The First Nations Studies Award, sponsored by the Wikwemikong Heritage Organization, for a student with the highest achievement in a First Nations studies course was awarded to Jacob Peltier-Henry.

The Anishinaabemowin Award, sponsored by the Wikwemikong Heritage Organization, for the student who demonstrated achievement and fluency in a Native language course was presented to Intermediate Ferris Eshkawkogan and Senior Carlos Wemigwans.

The Grade 9 Native Language Award, sponsored by Peggy and Bernie Brant, presented to the student with the highest achievement in a Grade 9 Native language course was awarded to Jasmyn Manitowabi.

The Little Current Royal Canadian Legion Award, presented to a graduate pursuing post-secondary education, was awarded to Jacob Peltier-Henry and Annie Wemigwans.

The BMO Science Awards, sponsored by Little Current BMO, presented to the students with the highest achievement in a science course were awarded to Grade 9, Navy Mishibinijima and Annie Pangowish; Grade 10, Garret Peltier and Tia Wemigwans; and Senior Annie Wemigwans.

The Mara University Science Award, sponsored by Chris Mara and Margit Alberti, presented to the student with the highest achievement in a university level science course was awarded to Annie Wemigwans.

The Lafarge University Math and Lafarge University Science Awards, presented to a student with the highest overall achievement in university level math and science courses, were both awarded to Annie Wemigwans.

The Mathematics Scholar Awards, sponsored by the Wikwemikong Health Centre, were presented to the students with the highest achievement in each grade level for mathematics. The 2017 recipients were Grade 9, Mary Pangowish; Grade 10, Caleb J. Corbiere and David Jackson; Grade 11, Brooke Trudeau; and Grade 12, Annie Wemigwans.

The Wikwemikong Board of Education English Scholar Awards, presented to the students with the highest achievement in English courses were awarded to Junior, Mary Pangowish; Intermediate, Charisma Staruck; and Senior, Moses Pitawanakwat.

The Manitoulin Expositor Award, awarded to the student in the workplace pathway with the highest achievement in a workplace English course, was presented to Moses Pitawanakwat.

The Life Skills Class Participation Award, sponsored by Wikwemikong Community Living Anishinabek, awarded to a student in the Life Skills class with the best participation throughout the year was presented to Fabian Recollet-Ominika.

The Mnamaadzawin Physical Education Awards, sponsored by Mnamaadzawin Active Living Studio, was awarded to the students with the highest achievement in healthy active living courses for each level. The recipients were Grade 9 girls, Jasmyn Manitowabi and April Pangowish; Grade 9 boys, Ian Dokum; Grade 10 girls, Hannah Peltier; Grade 10 boys, Ferris Eshkawkogan; and Senior, Elijah Bell and Caleb B. Corbiere.

The Cooperative Education Award, sponsored by the Andrew Manitowabi Group and presented to a student with the highest achievement in the Co-operative Education Program, was awarded to Seneca Manitowabi.

The Mackenzie Nodin Peltier Award, sponsored by Jillian and Lanny Peltier and family, was presented to a student who demonstrates resilience and perseverance by Jillian Peltier and her children to Thunder Recollet.

The Manitoulin Family Resources Award, sponsored by Manitoulin Family Resources and presented to the Wikwemikong High School graduate who is pursuing a career in a helping field, was awarded to Annie Wemigwans.

The Manitowaning Guardian Pharmacy Award, sponsored by Manitowaning Guardian Pharmacy, presented to a Wikwemikong High School graduate who is enrolled in a health-related post-secondary program, was awarded to Annie Wemigwans.

The Wikwemikong High School Parents’ Council Attendance awards for the student in each grade with the best attendance throughout the year were awarded to Grade 9, Lyndon Neshkwe; Grade 10, Travis Assiniwe; Grade 11, Dante Lewis; and Grade 12, Eileen Letander-Trudeau.

The Wikwemikong Chief and Council Awards for Academic Excellence, presented to the students with the highest overall average in each grade, were awarded to Grade 8, Chelsea Mandamin-Turner; Grade 9, Mary Pangowish; Grade 10, Charisma Staruck; Grade 11, Patrina Pitawanakwat; and Grade 12, Annie Wemigwans.

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