As the local MLA, nothing gives me greater pleasure than to address graduation ceremonies.
It’s not just because I am a former educator, or because these days my official role is opposition critic for education.
Graduation, specifically from high school, really does mark a special moment in a person’s life. It’s that great transition to adulthood when all of a sudden the path forward is not so predictable anymore and you finally get to make your own choices in life. Last week I told North Peace Secondary’s grad class that if your absolute dream is to go backpacking across Canada, or maybe around the world, go and do it now because I never took that opportunity when I had the chance.
All of a sudden priorities and obligations like making a living and supporting a family quickly take over, and that sense of freedom and the thrill of the unknown just gradually fades away. But the one thing that sticks with all us our whole life are the lessons and experiences we learn at school. The biggest credit of all is owed to our teachers and parents for helping to build one of the best public school systems in the world.
We can certainly always do better, but 2019 marks a special year in which more indigenous students graduated from high school than ever before in the history of our province. A report by the Auditor General in 2015 revealed the graduation rate for indigenous students was a shocking 24 percent lower than for non-indigenous students. In less than four years we have been able to reduce that gap to 16 percent, but still means we have a long way to go to ensure outcomes are the same for all students
regardless of their cultural background.
In closing, my message to all students, be they graduating or returning to school next year, be proud of your achievements and enjoy a safe summer.