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THUNDER BAY, ON: The Matawa Learning Centre (MLC) today hosted a graduation ceremony including convocation and awards for four students successfully obtaining their Ontario Secondary School Diploma. The graduation took place at the Victoria Inn Hotel and Conference Centre in the traditional territory of Fort William First Nation. Families of graduates, MLC partners, representatives and dignitaries from the Matawa First Nations, Nishnawbe Aski Nation, City of Thunder Bay, Nishnawbe Aski Police Services, Thunder Bay-Superior North Hon. Patty Hajdu’s office, amongst others, attended.

Dylan Neshinapaise, graduating student from Niibinamik was the MLC’s 2018 graduating class valedictorian and previous MLC student Whitney Edwards from Niibinamik was Master of Ceremony. Neskantaga First Nation Chief Wayne Moonias provided opening comments and congratulatory remarks. He was joined by Nishnawbe Aski Nation Deputy Grand Chief Anna Betty Achneepineskum, Matawa First Nations Management CEO David Paul Achneepineskum, Nishnawbe Aski Police Services Acting Chief of Police Roland Morrison, City of Thunder Bay Mayor Keith Hobbs, a representative for Honourable Patty Hajdu – MP for Thunder Bay-Superior North, MLC Principal Brad Battiston and Matawa Education Department Manager Sharon Nate.

MLC had an enrollment of 66 students during the first semester and 84 students during the second semester for the 2017-2018 school year. Staff comprised of a Principal, Senior Vice-Principal, 2nd Vice-Principal, five classroom teachers, and a number of support staff to meet the various mental health, cultural, special education and recreational needs of the students.

In 2016, MLC got involved in the First Nations Youth Inquest and have been actively involved in the implementation of Jury Recommendations forming a number of community partnerships such as with the City of Thunder Bay, Thunder Bay Police Services, Lakehead University, amongst others. In 2017, MLC acquired the City of Thunder Bay’s former Grandview Lodge to open in the near future as a Matawa Education and Care Centre.

This past school year, MLC integrated a variety of new and exciting programming into classes including land-based and outdoor education, art, and hockey. Students had the opportunity to go camping, canoeing, learn traditional skills, play hockey, and learn traditional cooking skills among many other fun learning adventures. Several students received certifications in canoeing, safe food handling, and fire arms safety as well as spent several nights away from the city in Quetico, Lac Des Mille Lacs, Sleeping Giant Provincial Park and at the first Indigenous Student Leadership Gathering at Old Fort William. MLC is looking forward to expanding these programs and providing students with more fun experiential learning opportunities.

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