Coast Mountain College has incorporated three key traditions into its convocation ceremonies that mark the importance of Indigenous cultures to the region and to our students.
Drumming in celebration
At each of our convocation ceremonies, be it in Prince Rupert, Smithers or Terrace, the platform party is drummed in to the ceremony. This acknowledges the Indigenous traditional territories upon which the celebrations take place and honours both our graduates and our guests with this welcome.
Indigenous communities, students, Elders, instructors, staff and community members bring an important contribution to the rich fabric of Coast Mountain College's community and we are privileged to incorporate these perspectives into our courses, field schools, community and our convocation ceremonies.
President's Art Award
Each year the President of Coast Mountain College selects a piece of art created by a student at the Freda Diesing School of Northwest Coast Art as the winner of the annual President's Art Award. The original piece becomes part of the Coast Mountain College permanent collection and 25 limited-edition prints are retained to give as gifts.
Three of these prints are given at convocation as symbols of recognition for the recipients of the annual Coast Mountain College Community Service, Employee Recognition and Distinguished Alumni awards.
Rather than a traditional mace carried in to convocation, Coast Mountain College has chosen to feature a paddle bearing an Indigenous design to honour the occasion.
In 2018 a new paddle was designed by Shawn Aster, a graduate of Coast Mountain College’s Freda Diesing School of Northwest Coast Art.
Shawn's inspiration for the paddle came from an end panel design on a classic northwest coast bentwood box. It features a sea creature called Gonakadet, the chief of wealth who is a great sea monster believed to be half animal and half fish. Gonakadet is also a whale eater and sometimes appears as Nagunaks, the chief of the seas.
This image is often portrayed with the suggestion of a hooked nose. The hooked nose can be thought of as a symbol of transformation powers in relation to the salmon metamorphosis. It is said to bring good fortune to anyone who sees it.
The paddle is an appropriate symbol for convocation in our region because it is a symbol of the transformative journey our students are on. Many of our communities were built-up around rivers, lakes and the ocean and navigating water has long been a way of life here. Paddles were essential to navigate these waters.
This paddle is a symbol of convocation because in pursuing education students give themselves the tools to navigate into the next stage of their life's journey. That journey may lead to further studies or rewarding careers.