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Sudbury Catholic District School Board Receives Great Honour

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Grade 11 St. Benedict student Kyle Taylor quietly reflects on the honour of being named Guardian of the Staff as the he accepts the Eagle Staff on behalf of the Sudbury Catholic District School Board.

January 20, 2011 - January 20th, 2011 marks a historic occasion for Aboriginal Education in the City of Sudbury. Over 150 people packed St David Catholic School gym on Jean Street to witness the Sudbury Catholic District School Board being gifted with an Eagle Staff. This is the first time in the City's history that such an honour has been given to any School Board and is a symbol of the strong relationship and commitment to Aboriginal Education which Sudbury Catholic Schools is fostering with First Nation, Metis and Inuit communities. Whitefish Lake First Nation Chief, Steve Miller welcomed students, staff and special guests to the Anishnawbek traditional territory during the presentation and community Elder and Native Language teacher Verna Hardwick and her student drummers welcomed the crowd with a traditional song and prayer.

Traditional teacher, Vince Pawis spoke to the students and staff about the importance of recognizing the youth as our future leaders and their role in keeping First Nation culture alive, as well as sharing it with others in the community. The Eagle Staff represents "a celebration of our strength in maintaining our language and culture" says Aboriginal Education Program Lead, Shelly Moore-Frappier. The Eagle Staff was made by Wikwemikong Elder, Robert Pheasant.

During the feast, Pheasant spoke of how the vision of the Eagle Staff came to him and how he build the staff. Pheasant also emphasized the teaching of patience. and focused on the students and shared with them that patience will help them become successful leaders and that perseverance and hard work also needs to be part of their lives in order to become successful members of the community.

The Eagle Staff's new home will be at St. Benedict Catholic Secondary School. Kyle Taylor, a grade 11 student at St Benedict accepted the Staff on behalf of the School Board and has been named the Guardian of the Staff. Taylor, humbled by this honour, spoke to his fellow students and thanked the people in his life who supported and cared for him making special mention of his grandmother who raised him and who he currently lives with. He thanked her for always being there for him, showing him how to love, teaching him right from wrong, and supporting him in becoming an independent teenager. Taylor also thanked Vince Pawis and Lorney Bob, two Elders who he states were, "his two greatest teachers".

After the ceremony and fest, Catherine McCullough, Director of Sudbury Catholic Schools, stated that "the Sudbury Catholic District School Board is very proud to have this opportunity and takes this responsibility very seriously. The Eagle Staff is there for all students. It is there to help them with any difficulties they may be having and it is there to remind us of the strength and beauty of First Nation, Metis, and Inuit culture".

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