Yukon First Nations grad ceremony a showcase for traditional regalia

It's a milestone for the graduates — and a chance to proudly show off their traditional regalia.

Yukon's annual First Nations graduation ceremony was held on Friday at the Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre in Whitehorse.

This year marks the 44th year for the event. There were 92 grads from across Yukon, as well as communities in the N.W.T. and northern B.C., receiving their high school diplomas.

Many of the teens were decked out in clothing and accessories passed down to them by relatives, or made especially for this occasion.

"It's not everyday you get a beautiful gift, handmade and that's from your own culture," said Seth Boss of the Liard First Nation, about the vest he was wearing. It was made by his mother.

Claudiane Samson/Radio-Canada

"I never owned anything like this before, so it's truly amazing. I feel very honoured and privileged to wear this vest."

Boss was also wearing a ring that belonged to his late grandmother. His mom gave him the ring as a graduation present, he said.

"I love it. It's beautiful, you know? Things you just want to cherish."

Matthew Wesley, a citizen of the Taku River Tlingit First Nation in Atlin, B.C., was sporting a cedar hat made by his mom, some "amazing" mukluks made by his grandmother, and a wolf pelt draped over his shoulders.

Claudiane Samson/Radio-Canada

"I bought this from an Atlin hunter, and I bought it because that's my clan — wolf," he said.

Wesley said the grad ceremony left him feeling excited and overwhelmed.

"Overwhelmed in a good way," he said.

"Four years ago, I couldn't see this. I just really didn't see this, and once you work with it, and put work into it, this is the end product."

Wesley's grandmother stood alongside him, beaming.

"Very proud of my grandson!" she said.

Wayne Vallevand/CBC