Yellowknife’s YK1 school district has issued its first awards dedicated to the recognition of Indigenous students’ achievements.
The Sacred Feather Indigenous Student Awards were created this year to honour Indigenous students who “model strength and commitment in the pursuit of their personal education paths.”
Students are nominated by their peers, teachers, Elders and other members of the educational community. Winners are selected by a committee.
This year’s winners are:
- Bez Denii William Antoine (JK-Grade 2 category);
- Mia Miller (Grades 3-5 category);
- Mya Elie Martin Crapeau (Grades 6-8 category); and
- Jaylen Base-Smith (Grades 9-12 category).
YK1 said recipients were chosen for their “unique qualities” and the way they embraced “their own gifts, strengths and potential” while celebrating the ways of their peoples, inspiring others around them to do the same.
Antoine received a Sacred Feather Indigenous Student Award for his pride in his Dene heritage. He is “an active participant and enthusiastic learner of the Wiilideh language in his Indigenous Language and Culture class,” YK1 said, and has drummed with guest drummers at school ceremonies.
Miller was recognized “for embracing her cultural identity and promoting the strength, beauty, and value of her Inuit community” by proudly sharing her cultural dances, traditional language and homemade clothing. She demonstrated enthusiasm not only for celebrating and sharing her own culture, but also learning about Dene culture, language, and history, YK1 said.
Crapeau was awarded a Sacred Feather for her work advocating for Dene values and traditions. Crapeau is said to have taken on leadership roles especially while on the land, inviting her peers to learn how to use tools, identify plants, bead moccasins, and clean fish. Outside school, YK1 said, Crapeau is involved in community events in Yellowknife, Ndilǫ and Dettah, and attends on-the-land camps during the summer.
Base-Smith earned a Sacred Feather for his advocacy for Dene values and traditions, YK1 said, such as participating in hand games and drum dances any time the opportunity arises. He has been accepted to the British Columbia Institute of Technology’s finance diploma program for next year.
Each winner receives a commemorative feather, certificate and gift card to the Yellowknife Book Cellar. Their names will also be engraved on a legacy plaque at YK1’s district office.