UCalgary Indigenous Teepee

Indigenous Graduation Celebration

It's time to celebrate!

The Indigenous Graduation Celebration is an annual event in which Writing Symbols Lodge invites Indigenous graduates from the University of Calgary to celebrate their achievements alongside their family, friends, Elders and community. This event is held in addition to the convocation ceremonies that all UCalgary graduates can attend upon completing their degrees. 

Indigenous graduates are honoured at the celebration with a gifting ceremony to commemorate this exciting achievement. The event also includes Métis fiddlers and performers.

Event details:

When: Friday, June 7, 2024

Registration: 11 a.m.– Noon
Grand Entry: Noon
Public celebrations/Round Dance: 4:30 p.m. 

Where: MacEwan Hall A/B, Main Campus

Free parking: Lots 10 and 11

Activities for the public

After the graduation celebration for students and their guests, members of the public are invited to stop by and participate in a Round Dance! All are welcome to attend and join in at 4:30 p.m. A give away will be offered to guests.

Get involved

The Indigenous Graduation celebrations require the support of students, faculty members, staff and volunteers, as well as sponsors.

If you’re interested in volunteering your time leading up to or during the event, or if your company or organization would like to provide sponsorship, please email us at writingsymbolslodge@ucalgary.ca.⁠

Students who are graduating

If you did not receive your registration link please contact writingsymbolslodge@ucalgary.ca

Honouring Indigenous graduates

An important element of the Indigenous Graduation Celebration is the gifting ceremony, which is presided over by multiple Elders. It's a special way of honouring UCalgary's Indigenous students who have completed their studies and received their degrees. Traditional gifts for the ceremony include blankets and hand-beaded medallions, with the addition of sashes for Métis graduates and eagle feathers for PhD graduates. These gifts are blessed by the Elders before being presented to the graduates.

During the ceremony, graduates are individually called to stand before their peers, loved ones and community, and are presented with ceremonial gifts by the Elders in attendance. As this is a ceremonial honouring, graduates must be present in order to receive the traditional gifts.

To participate, graduates must have been approved to graduate from a UCalgary program from in the most recent November or February convocation ceremonies, or the current year’s June convocation.

A graduate receiving their blanket during the gifting ceremony.

Ramsey Kunkel Photography


Arrival: Please arrive 15 minutes early to get settled.

Parking: Free parking will be available to all attendees in Lots 12 and 13. Volunteers will be at each lot entrance to provide parking codes.

Check-in: The event is located at Green Space 18 (behind the Cenovus Spo'pi Solar House). Students and guests must head to the UCalgary registration team first to check-in and get organized for the ceremony.

Dress protocol: Participants are invited (but not expected) to wear traditional dress including ribbon skirts and shirts. Regalia is also welcome (keep in mind that you will be blanketed during the ceremony). All participants are asked to wear clothing that covers the shoulders and goes below the knees. These protocols are a guide for participants — additional questions can be emailed to writingsymbolslodge@ucalgary.ca.

Photography: Please note that a photographer will be present at the event. The UCalgary tipi will be set up, and props will also be available to students for photos with their guests!

The Métis sash is a traditional piece of clothing, created through a process called "finger weaving." We are grateful to offer our Métis graduates the opportunity to receive a sash presented by Métis Elders and Métis Nation of Alberta Representatives.

For more history of the Métis Sash or to learn about the six colours of the sash and their symbolic meanings, please visit Alberta Métis.

A student receiving a medallion from an Elder.

Student awards

Indigenous students who have graduated in the previous fall/winter or expect to graduate this spring are eligible to apply for the Dr. Olive Dickason Award and the Royal Eagle Award, funded by the Writing Symbols Lodge and various donors. 

These awards are an opportunity for you to tell us about the great things you've accomplished. Whether it was overcoming a major obstacle or standing up to be a leader in your community, we want to honour and celebrate with you! 

Applications are currently closed. Check back for further details.

The Dr. Olive Dickason Award recognizes and honours the accomplishment of an Indigenous graduand who exercised resilience in overcoming adverse life events to achieve success and graduate from the University of Calgary. This tribute includes a financial award of $1,000 provided by Brent and Hugh Alexander.

The Royal Eagle Award is sponsored and presented by Writing Symbols Lodge to a graduating Indigenous undergraduate student at the University of Calgary. This tribute includes a financial award of $1,000 and recognizes academic excellence and community-based volunteerism or student leadership.