At Marie Sharpe Elementary School on Thursday, May 23 this year’s First Nations Role Models were officially selected.
Ever since 2003, SD27 has awarded the title of First Nations Role Model to Indigenous students who set a good example for their fellow students. For 16 years now they’ve selected a male and female recipient, from Grades 8 to 11, to take on the role.
This year there were 10 candidates from First Nations communities from 100 Mile House, Williams Lake to the Nemiah Valley, all dressed in their best. The ceremony began with a hoop dance performance by Francis Johnson and the Marie Sharpe Hoop Dancers before each of the candidates walked the gymnasium, while last year’s winners Terrance Hubick-Archie and Denza Phung read their bios.
Finally, with all the students assembled on stage with about 200 elders, friends and family watching, the 2019 First Nations Role Models were announced to excited cheers and thunderous applause.
Cheiro Guichon was selected as the male First Nations Role Model, a win that, while he said he half expected, was still a welcome surprise. Guichon is a proud member of the Alexis Creek Band (Tsi Del Del) and is a Grade 11 student at Lake City Secondary School Williams Lake Campus.
He has committed to living a drug and alcohol-free life to honour the wishes of his late mother and works every day to improve himself. Guichon taught himself the guitar in just two weeks and plans to attend university to pursue a music degree.
For the female First Nations Role Model Alicia William was selected, another Grade 11 Student from the WL Campus. A member of the Xeni Gwet’in First Nation, she is a humble honour roll student with distinction and helps out with the annual youth wagon trip come spring time.
William said she applied for this position, in part, due to her experiences caring for and leading her many cousins in her personal life and seeing the positive effect it has on them. She also plans to attend university, with the ultimate goal of becoming a veterinarian.
The female candidates were:
1.) Alicia William, Grade 11 from Lake City Secondary (WL Campus) and a member of Xeni Gwet’in First Nation
2.) Shareese Case, Grade 10 from Lake City Secondary (WL Campus) and a member of Tsi Del Del (Alexis Creek Indian Band)
3.) Sierra William, Grade 11 from Lake City Secondary (WL Campus) and a member of Xeni Gwet’in First Nation
4.) Freigncheska Isnardy, Grade 9 from Lake City Secondary School (Columneetza Campus) a member of the Toosey Band (Tl’esqox)
5.) Deanndra Ned-Oleman, Grade 11 from Peter Skene Ogden Secondary School in 100 Mile House. A member of the Xaxlipmec Band
6.) Maryann Finch, Grade 11 from Peter Skene Ogden Secondary School in 100 Mile House, a member of Kyuquot Nation
7.) Brooke Montgomery, Grade 11 from Peter Skene Ogden Secondary School in 100 Mile House, a member of the Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation
The male candidates were:
1.) Cheiro Guichon, Grade 11 from Lake City Secondary School, a member of Tsi Del Del (Alexis Creek Indian Band)
2.) William Lulua, Grade 8 from Lake City Secondary School (Columneetza Campus) a member of the Xeni Gwet’in First Nation.
3.) Tommy Dodds, Grade 8 from Peter Skene Ogden Secondary School in 100 Mile House and a member of the Kitkatla Gitxaala Nation
The First Nations Role Model Program started in 2003 with this being the 16th year. The program was brought to SD27 by then Director of Instruction for First Nations Education, Joan Palmantier-Gentles. Over the years district staff have made a few minor enhancements to this program.
School District 27 has over 1,400 First Nations students who identify as status on or off reserve, non-status, Inuit, Métis.
The emcee for the evening was David DeRose, Principal for First Nations Education Department at SD27.
At the ceremony Thursday evening, the role models were cleansed by Elder Gary Stieman, and cloaked in blankets as per First Nations culture. They each received framed posters of themselves, bookmarks, role model jacket and sash, all of which they get to keep. In addition they receive a $500 bursary each from School District 27 and a certificate signed by SD27 Superintendent and Board Chair, also Director of Instruction and the District Principal for First Nations Education.
Additionally, the candidates each received a jacket with their names as role model candidate as well as role model water bottles.
The bands come together to provide the feast.
Members of the First Nations Education Council helped in organizing the feast for up to 200 people as well as assisting First Nations Education department staff throughout the evening.