The Grand Council of the Crees

Key Note Address By Grand Chief Matthew Mukash To The Secondary V Graduates Chisasibi

Key Note Address By Grand Chief Matthew Mukash To The Secondary V Graduates Chisasibi

Posted: 2006-06-20

Good day and welcome to all of the guests who are here to congratulate and celebrate this year's Secondary V graduates of James Bay Eeyou School in Chisasibi. Indeed, tonight will be very special and a time of experiencing pride and joy for the graduates, their families, relatives and friends.

I bring greetings also from Deputy Grand Chief Iserhoff, who sends his best wishes this way and to all graduates.

I would like to begin by stating how thankful and honoured I am to have been chosen by the graduates as a guest at this very special event. Unfortunately though, I am not able to be present in person here as a result of medical reasons from which I am nicely recovering. However, I still share in this celebration with you in spirit, as I am thinking each and everyone of you, graduates, and how important this day must be to you all -- a new chapter beginning in your lives!

It is a great privilege to be able to share some thoughts and words with you about my personal experience in education. When I was a child I was educated in the traditional way. This part of my life truly taught me who I was and where I came from. When I graduated from elementary school back home in Whapmagoostui, my father, John Mukash, (my only living parent at that time since we lost my mother when I was thirteen years old) suggested that I should pursue higher studies in the south which I did (In those days (1960s) there were no secondary schools in the north). He said that one day I could help my people. Today, I hold a secondary diploma, a college and university degrees. I also have certificates in administration, finance and other areas. My father past away in the summer of 1998 at the age of 91. His vision of his son one day serving his people as a leader has become a reality. In the last thirteen years, as a result of my education I have held positions of leadership. Today, I hold the position of a leader of our nation -- the Eeyouch/Enouch of Eeyou Istchee.

It takes determination, persistence and dedication to succeed in anything that we endeavor to dream and accomplish. Our Ancestors survived and lived each day by such values and virtues. To you I say: Let these values and virtues lead you on your life's path, and never give up! There are many obstacles and challenges in life, but each one of them serves a purpose. If we approach them with an open mind, open heart and without fear, we realize that they are our greatest teachers. Remember this!

Many, perhaps, all of you are ready to embark upon the journey of life with good education, both traditional and contemporary. Whatever the choice you make, make it with determination, commitment, dedication, and the will to succeed. It is only this way that you will succeed no matter what challenges you may encounter on that journey. I have personally learned from this truth. This is a philosophy of our Ancestors that I was taught as a child, and I convey it here to you with the hope that you will also understand it and accept it as I have, and bring you success in life!

Take the time to reflect on your new journey. Challenge yourself to do more. Find what your interests are and seek out the means to achieve them always with success.

On behalf of the Grand Council of the Crees of Eeyou Istchee, I thank you for letting us celebrate your hard work and share in your success. I want you to know that as your leaders, we will continue to support and encourage you to succeed, remembering that in today's world - education is the key to success!

To your teachers, we say, thank you for your hard work and dedication to bring these young people to the level of achievement they had reached today with great success! No doubt you will remain in the hearts and memories of your graduates for a long time. Their achievements are yours as well!

Graduates of Chisasibi Eeyou School, we are proud of you and, today, we honour you! All the best to each and every one of you!

May the Great Creator guide you in all your future endeavors!

God bless you all and your families!

Grand Chief Matthew Mukash