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Parade marks Aboriginal Head Start Program graduation

18 youngsters had a ceremony like no other on Friday, as the graduates of the Grande Prairie Friendship Centre’s Aboriginal Head Start Program were each seen by a parade of teachers, well-wishers, and friends.

The culturally-based pre-school program for kids aged three to five years old offers unique programming twice a week while welcoming input and involvement from parents.

Program Coordinator Joleen Bateman says it was a bittersweet day, as they would normally come together for a big ceremony. She adds seeing the smiling faces however made the last three difficult months all worth it.

(L) Kathleen & (R) graduate Elizabeth Anderson (2DayFM Staff)

“Our parents spend months making traditional regalia for their child, making their own drum, the children learn to dance so they perform from their families.”

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Bateman says earlier this week the program went offline, as members of staff made one-on-one socially distanced visits with each child and their families for a more formal wrap up of the year. She adds the parade on Friday was more of an overall celebration.

“It’s not how we would like to do it, but it’s been really good for the parents because we’ve been [a] support through this… and it’s more of good luck than a goodbye.”

Bateman adds, if everything is back to normal in 2021, the graduating class will be invited back for a barbeque so they can physically see each other and celebrate their accomplishment.

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