McGill education grads feted at reception by KEC

Finishing a university degree is always cause for celebration, but a ceremony held last weekend honoured a number of recent grads who not only completed their education degree – but did it at night, while working full-time in the community and raising families.

It’s an impressive feat, no matter who you ask.

“They really are an impressive group,” said the Kahnawake Education Center’s associate director of education Falen Jacobs.

A celebratory evening was held to celebrate the graduation of the 28 locals who completed their McGill University Bachelor’s of Education studies last Saturday at Robbie’s Smokehouse on Highway 138. They were a part of a special program wherein they studied in the community, with instructors from the community, Jacobs said.

“It’s quite a unique program, and it was really a wonderful group of instructors and students who became a lot like family,” Jacobs explained.

It’s unique in that the students didn’t have to set foot in a McGill classroom. With professors from the community offering their wisdom to students in the community, all the learning was done in Kahnawake.

Given that the students largely already worked in the education field already, the opportunities to put their education to work immediately were also plentiful.

The group of 28 grads – the original cohort of 34 has six students who must still only pass a handful of courses to earn their degrees – walked their convocation and were formally given their diplomas yesterday afternoon in downtown Montreal.

“We are incredibly proud of them – and a great many of the students were working full time, often in education, in the community. Many were raising families and still found the time to get this done. It’s really amazing what they have managed to accomplish,” Jacobs added.

The degree, formally called a Bachelor’s Degree in kindergarten to Grade 12 Education, First Nations and Inuit, is the result of a unique partnership between McGill University and the KEC, program coordinator Bethany Douglas said, adding the cohort of students had to deal with the unprecedented circumstance of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“You throw COVID-19 on top, you have a group that faced many challenges, but they really did become something like a family in terms of how tight a bond they had,” Douglas said.

Her focus now is to help the remaining six members of the original class complete their studies and qualify for their own degrees before starting another cohort, she said.

“We would think about starting another cohort in fall 2023 maybe,” she said. “Certainly, it wouldn’t be before that time

Marc Lalonde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Iori:wase