Grad photo contest winners celebrate their achievement in pictures
- Jeanelle Mandes | July 14, 2020
It’s our favourite time of the year again where we proudly feature some of the province’s Indigenous graduates in our annual grad photo contest. It’s always a challenge to pick our winners but through all the submissions, we choose our top three contestants. Here are their stories.
Annakah Ratt from Prince Albert won first place in the grad photo contest. Ratt is a prominent lacrosse player who used the sport to help overcome her shyness in high school. She graduated from the École St. Mary High School and celebrated on June 29 with family. Ratt will miss seeing her friends in school but mostly she will miss her teachers.
“I just loved all the teachers I had especially my English teacher who taught me a lot of things,” said Ratt, who will be starting the University of Saskatchewan’s SUNTEP program in the fall. “I liked the teachers I had in the past who inspired me and shown me what teaching really holds. My mom was a teacher so she definitely was a big inspiration.”
When Ratt first heard that she won first place in the Eagle Feather News grad photo contest, it was something that she didn’t expect.
“It was so amazing. I was so surprised when my mom texted me that I won [first place],” she said. “I was ecstatic and I actually feel quite honoured because it was a special picture with me my lacrosse stick. It’s a big part of my life.”
Ratt has been playing lacrosse for the past five years. She competed in the North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) in the past and had even played in provincial leagues on all-male teams.
“Holding my lacrosse stick [in the photo] signifies what had help me through an awkward time in my life and trying to find where I belonged,” she said.
Ratt hopes her story will inspire other youth to continue on their paths to finish high school and reach for a higher education.
“Keep striving and know that this is something that you can accomplish and will help you further your life,” she said.
Ratt receives $200 for winning first place in the contest as well as a brand-new pair of Beats headphones that were donated by the Saskatchewan Advocate for Children & Youth. When asked what she plans to do with her prize money, she said it will be going to good use.
“I plan on saving enough money to go towards school [in the fall],” she said. “With the Beats headphones, I’m going to listen to my music more efficiently.”
Our second-place winner in the grad photo contest goes to Jasmine Burns from the Sturgeon Lake Cree Nation where she will receive $100 and also a pair of Beats headphones.
Burns graduated grade 12 from the Prince Albert Collegiate Institute (PACI) on June 26th where her school had an outside parade for each graduate. It was an unusual way to celebrate a graduation but with COVID-19 restrictions, Burns’ school followed protocols to practice safe social distancing.
“I didn’t mind it because I had a chance to say goodbye to my teachers,” she said. “Even though I didn’t get to see most of my classmates, I still liked it. It was more of an emotional time…but had a good conversation with all of them.”
Burns has been accepted into the University of Saskatchewan to study nursing in the fall. She hopes to work in different Indigenous communities after she’s done her studies.
Another student from PACI is the third place winner. Jared Ermine will receive $75 and also a pair of Beats headphones. He said he will miss his teachers but he will mostly miss PACI’s annual Halloween events that feature costume contests.
“I dressed up every single year since Grade 9,” he said. “I won in a lot of the costume contests.”
Ermine is featured wearing a Halo Master Chief head mask in his grad photo submission. He said he was inspired to imitate the look from social media.
“I (saw) a Facebook post where a guy was dressed as a Halo character and everyone loved it. So, I decided to copy that,” he said.
Now that Ermine is done high school, he plans to work for awhile until he figures out what he wants to pursue in post-secondary.
Congratulations to this year’s grad photo winners and big thanks to all that submitted to our annual grad photo contest!