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News Release: Virtual TCOA Celebrates Region’s Indigenous Graduates

News Release: Virtual TCOA Celebrates Region’s Indigenous Graduates

(Fort McMurray, AB, June 3, 2021) Fort McMurray Public School Division (FMPSD) congratulates our region’s Indigenous graduates, who were honoured at the 24th annual Traditional Ceremony of Achievement (TCOA) on June 1, 2021. This year’s celebration saw 45 FMPSD graduates and 224 graduates in total. The event is hosted in collaboration with Fort McMurray Catholic Schools, and the Northland School Division. It recognizes and honours the First Nations, Métis, and Inuit (FNMI) graduates of the Wood Buffalo region. Students from Fort McMurray, Fort Chipewyan, Fort McKay, Anzac, Janvier, and Conklin were honoured via a slide-show highlighting them.

Elder Robert Cree opened the virtual ceremony with a prayer. Graduates were congratulated by Mayor Don Scott, local chiefs, Indigenous leaders, and school superintendents.

Jennifer Turner, FMPSD Superintendent congratulated the graduates.

“Graduates, you enter a brave world where a pandemic is making daily changes. But, you have persevered through it already in high school. Your schools, teachers, parents/guardians, friends and community members have been your support system, and you are ready. We know you will be difference-makers, because if we’ve learned anything since last March - we have seen you pivot quickly and overcome whatever change has been thrown your way.”

“As I reflect on the young people graduating today I am so very grateful for you, for the time we have had learning with you while you are in school and I am grateful for the role you will play in the community as you leave FMPSD to continue to contribute to the community and the world. We look forward to seeing you carry the tradition of excellence started here,” noted Superintendent Turner. 

Angela Woods, VP at Dr. Clark School is FMPSD’s Indigenous Education lead, and TCOA organizing committee member. She was delighted with the event.

“The TCOA committee members executed a spectacular virtual live event with teachings of the coveted Eagle Feather by Elder Robert Cree, and performances from local Cree Drummers, Dene Drummers, and the Moccasin Jiggers. In collaboration with Neville Productions, McMurray Métis and our dedicated TCOA team members, we were able to honour FMPSD's Indigenous grads and give them the celebration they so much deserve. We are so proud of FMPSD Indigenous grads and wish them continued success on their life journey.”

James Hayward, Frank Spragins Principal, also sits on the TCOA organizing committee. He echoed similar sentiments. 

"Working with the TCOA committee is always such a rewarding experience. The committee is made up of a group of individuals who are so very passionate about celebrating the success of our Indigenous students. Everyone's ability to adapt to the current reality during this school year was so very inspiring, and we had to change plans several times throughout the winter and spring due to the ever-evolving nature of the COVID-19 pandemic. The end result was a very impressive virtual event that recognized our Indigenous graduates in such a meaningful and memorable way. I could not be happier with how TCOA 2021 turned out!"

The inaugural TCOA was held in 1998 when 33 graduates from the Fort McMurray area crossed the stage. 

Congratulations grads!

For more information, please contact:

Kiran Malik-Khan

Communications Manager          

Fort McMurray Public School Division