New traditions mark northwestern B.C. college convocation

Paddle carved by Stan Bevan reflects aboriginal uniqueness of the region

Students from Northwest Community College's early childhood development program at the convocation ceremony May 12. From left to right: Janice Angus (Prince Rupert)

THIS YEAR’S convocation ceremony for the Northwest Community College (NWCC) graduating class of 2016 featured some new traditions meant to highlight the uniqueness of the region.

The May 12 convocation ceremony took place at R.E.M. Lee Theatre and students from Terrace as well as from other communities in northwestern B.C. were there to be honoured for their academic achievements.

One of the new traditions that was incorporated this year featured Gitlaxdax drummers Ross Scodane and Gerald Brown drumming the graduates into the theatre before the ceremony was held.

While convocation ceremonies typically feature a mace being carried onto the stage by a master of ceremonies, NWCC decided to introduce a paddle celebrating the aboriginal heritage and uniqueness of the region.

The paddle was designed and painted by Stan Bevan, an artist and instructor with the NWCC Fred Diesing School of Northwest Coast Art located at the college’s Terrace campus.

“This paddle is a symbol of convocation, said NWCC president Ken Burt in a news release. “In pursuing education you have given yourself the tools to navigate the next stages of your journey.”

The keynote speaker for the ceremony was Alice Maitland, who is a retired NWCC regional director and current Hazelton mayor.

In her comments to the graduates, she said,“I’ve gotten old doing what I love to do and working on things I’m passionate about. You should do that.”

Among other awards presented:

Governor General’s Medal – Neil Pilgrim, Student of Applied Coastal Ecology.

Distinguished Alumni Award – Kyle Thomson, Owner of Monster Industries of Houston, B.C.

Employee Recognition Award – Cindy Motschilnig, NWCC accounting clerk at the college’s Terrace campus.

Community Service – Erbert Operana, NWCC cook in Terrace who volunteers with a local food bank.