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Bearspaw grads celebrated at Eden Valley

Education: Dimitri Kootenay, Sonia Lefthand are Chief Jacob Bearspaw Memorial School's Class of 2019

A pair of graduates received some encouraging words from their community leader as they take the next step in their lives.

Darcy Dixon, Bearspaw First Nation Chief, congratulated graduates Sonia Lefthand and Dimitri Kootenay in making this big step during a graduation ceremony at Chief Jacob Bearspaw Memorial School June 20 at Eden Valley.

“It’s a big step today and in some ways,  it is just a small step,” Dixon said. “No longer is Grade 12 such a major influence on one’s career. Today’s world we have to go beyond that, university, college another step of learning and continue with that process…

“Make sure our children have a better chance of learning.”

Lefthand would like to take the next step by enrolling in college and maybe someday helping the stars light up the big screen with their smiles.

“When I was 13 I started to get into makeup and I want to become a professional makeup artist,” Lefthand said.

She plans to attend MC College and take makeup artistry in the future.

She credited the staff at K-Grade 12 Chief Jacob Bearspaw in getting her to this stage of her life.

“They kept pushing me and encouraging and telling me to keep going on,” Lefthand said. “I’m very happy that I graduated.”
The graduation ceremony program has a statement from Lefthand encouraging her classmates and those following in her footsteps to keep going to school.

She admitted she thought of quitting school in the past.

“A lot of times,” she said. “(But) I wanted to accomplish something.”


Kootenay is graduating from a school where he was more than just a student – he was a part of the community fibre and someone younger students looked up to.

Especially when he put on the Chief Jacob Bearspaw Grizzlies volleyball jersey.

A Treaty 7 banner championship hangs proudly on the school’s gymnasium wall with Dimitri and his older brother Troy’s signature on it.

 “That’s pretty important it’s one of the only banners this school has ever got,” Dimitri said, who was on the team as a Grade 10 student.

He is also a member of the Eden Valley Cadets.

He doesn’t know exactly what is cooking for his future.

“I would like to be a chef or a baker,” he said, adding he is considering going to post-secondary school in the future.

“I feel good that I graduated.”

Kootenay and Lefthand received an eagle feather from Chief Dixon. They were also presented with Indigenous blankets.

The traditional drumming band Spotted Rock also performed at the graduation ceremony.


Bruce Campbell

About the Author: Bruce Campbell

Bruce Campbell is the editor for and the Western Wheel newspaper. He is a graduate of Mount Royal College journalism program, 1991. For story tips contact
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