Grads parade on Salter StreetJune 29, 2022
Graduates from Children of the Earth, R.B. Russell Vocational and St. John’s high schools, along with students from the Urban Circle Training Centre, took to Salter Street on June 27 for the first-ever North End Grad Walk.
The event, which was organized by local community activist Michael Redhead Champagne, was open to graduates from the Classes of 2020, 2021 and 2022.
The Class of 2020 had in-person convocation ceremonies cancelled due to the pandemic, while 2021 had socially distanced grads that were modified due to restrictions.
St. John’s 2021 graduate Darlene Cuevas was happy to participate in the parade, after last year’s prom and graduation dinner were cancelled due to Covid.
“I saw the post for the event while scrolling on Instagram. I was excited to see my fellow grads, people who graduated before us and some of my friends who are graduating this year, and then we’re joined with two other schools…it was nice to have that opportunity,” Cuevas said.
R.B. Russell Class of 2022 graduate Shaylee Mercer said she appreciated being able to have a full graduation ceremony this year.
“It’s really great to be able to see people’s faces and have everyone come together,” said Mercer, who is also her high school’s 2022 valedictorian. “Graduation is supposed to be a big day for everyone and it wasn’t the same back then.”
Mercer came to Winnipeg with her family from Thompson two years ago; the parade was their first community event since the start of the pandemic.
“I came out because I wanted to be with my family and people in the community,” she said. “This is our first event with the Winnipeg School Division.”
R.B. Russell graduate Colin Cabral said that he was also thankful to have an in-person graduation this year.
“I know the past few years have been a little stressful for some other grads, but I’m thankful that they get to experience something today.”
The parade started at St. John’s, winding down Salter Street to Children of the Earth, where students took photos by a colourful balloon archway.
While graduates marched down Salter Street with proud family and friends, the Winnipeg Police Service chaperoned the parade-goers safely down the street. The event concluded at R.B. Russell with a celebratory barbecue.
“We believe these young people are our future, so we have to lift them up and celebrate them at every opportunity,” Champagne said via social media. “This event was an opportunity for us as a neighbourhood to say: We love you and we’re proud of you!”