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University of Sudbury celebrates graduating students in Moose Factory

On Thursday, November 16, 2017, community members, representatives, friends and family gathered at the EPR Center in Moose Factory to celebrate the students who most recently obtained their university degree.

The students recognized were: Allison Nakogee, who completed her studies in Fall 2016 and received her degree with Cum Laude honours; Melanie Wesley who completed her studies in Spring 2017 and received her degree with Cum Laude honours; and Dorinda Vincent (Gustafson), who completed her studies in Spring 2017 and received her degree with Magna Cum Laude honours.

These students graduated from the Indigenous Studies program offered by the University of Sudbury on-site, on the James Bay Coast. This offering began in 2013 and has provided university-level education in the communities of Moose Factory, Attawapiskat, Kashechewan and Fort Albany. The project has been evaluated in a very positive light by the students and alumni, and has had a tangible impact on these communities. Despite funding setbacks, the University is committed to this valuable project, and to its longevity.

The project is made possible through collaboration, and the University of Sudbury is fortunate to have an ongoing partnership with the Mushkegowuk Tribal Council, to ensure this offering in the area. In this partnership, which began in 2013 and was renewed until 2019, the Council and the University commit to continue working together with the goal of creating a long term sustainable university learning program in the Council’s territory.

National Chief Perry Bellegarde of the Assembly of First Nations, and David Zimmer, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, were unable to attend the event and sent messages to be shared on their behalf. “It is vital that our First Nations maintain their connection to their traditional homelands while accessing post-secondary education, straddling both worlds while improving themselves, strengthening their families and building a better future for their First Nations,” states Chief Bellegarde in his letter.

Seven students have now graduated from the Indigenous Studies program on the James Bay Coast. “This year, we proudly celebrate Allison, Melanie and Dorinda, who seized the opportunity and persevered to succeed, even receiving their degrees with distinctions,” states Dr. Sophie Bouffard, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sudbury. “We thank all important partners that make such valuable projects possible and look forward to recognizing the accomplishments of future graduates of the program on the James Bay Coast!”
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