Lethbridge College is pleased to announce that Peter Weasel Moccasin will receive an honorary degree at this year’s college convocation ceremony. Weasel Moccasin will receive a Bachelor of Applied Science – Ecosystem Management degree at the ceremony on April 27 at the Enmax Centre.
Weasel Moccasin has worked as the college’s Kainai Kaahsinnoonik (Grandparent) since 2013. His role is as a mentor, leader and advocate for students, employees and community members, Indigenous and non-Indigenous alike. He is described as kind, warm-hearted and humble, characteristics that allow him to earn the respect of those around him.
“Peter has had an immeasurable effect on our campus, as a knowledgeable and empathetic leader,” says Dr. Paula Burns, Lethbridge College President and CEO. “He makes true connections with those he speaks with, providing guidance and support. He has also taken an active role in improving the lives of our Indigenous learners and has helped to connect the college with the local Indigenous community.”
Raised on the Kainai Nation, Weasel Moccasin grew up listening to the stories of the Kaahsinnooniksi in his community.
“They were always praying in their lodges, praying we can overcome the challenges we face, whether it was an emotional, mental, spiritual challenge or a sickness,” says Weasel Moccasin. “They were very serene and at peace with themselves. And that’s what I felt as a young boy.”
Through these teachings, he gained a traditional way of knowing. While he never envisioned passing on those lessons, he now regularly provides guidance to a younger generation.
“The message is to help people in the future through prayer and conversation,” says Weasel Moccasin. “I am not a leader, but maybe I can help in the college and in the community, to live in peace in and outside of the community, to help overcome barriers, to overcome prejudice and bigotry.”
In addition to his work with Lethbridge College, Weasel Moccasin regularly provides guidance and support to the Saipoyi Elementary School and Kainai High School within his local community, as well as the Opokaa’sin Early Intervention Society, and school districts across southern Alberta. He often speaks and bring opening prayers at educational and cultural conferences.
At Lethbridge College, Peter has been instrumental in making Indigenous education a priority. He currently sits on the President’s Indigenous Advisory Council and the internal Indigenous Committee. His leadership has helped to make recent events, such the raising of the Blackfoot Confederacy flag permanently on-campus, and Lethbridge College receiving its own Blackfoot name, Ohkotoki’aahkkoiyiiniimaan, which means Stone Pipe, a reality.
He visits the Niitsitapi Gathering Place on a regular basis to provide advice and guidance to students and staff. He also presents to classrooms on topics such as learning from place, Blackfoot history and residential schools. Being a residential school survivor himself, he speaks about the past with an honesty and truth that is both humbling and eye-opening to the hard realities that have occurred. He uses humour as a tool of strength and resiliency.
“He truly is a loving soul who so many feel instantly connected to and one who educates without the learners even knowing,” says Shanda Webber, Lethbridge College manager of Recruitment and Indigenous Services. “He has shared so much knowledge and wisdom with me and I am truly honoured to have him in my life.”
The knowledge and values of the Blackfoot ways that Weasel Moccasin shares and instills in Lethbridge College students gives them hope, strength and guidance on their pathway to success in striving for a post-secondary education and more.
Weasel Moccasin will be the 18th person to receive an honorary degree from Lethbridge College since the award was first given in 1986.
Weasel Moccasin will also be recognized the evening before Convocation at the college’s annual Honouring Excellence event. He will be joined by alumni award recipients Kathy Veres Sassa, Barbara Duckworth Thompson, Chelsey De Groot and Cornelius Mans on April 26 in the Garden Court dining room. The community is invited to be a part of the annual event and enjoy a cocktail reception and a delicious meal prepared by the Culinary Careers students and staff of Lethbridge College.
Tickets for the Honouring Excellence event are $75 for general admission, $65 for alumni and $50 for current students. Tickets and more information are available online or by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.