Virtual Scarf Ceremony Celebrates Indigenous Graduates

Published: 30 May 2023

Indigenous McGill students including the Faculty’s In-Community students with the Office of First Nations and Inuit Education (OFNIE) participated in the annual virtual Scarf Ceremony. Indigenous knowledge-keepers and University leadership offered heartfelt greetings and words of wisdom to our graduands who will don red or white scarves as part of their Convocation regalia.

Kahnawake-based designer Tammy Beauvais from the Mohawk Nation created the scarves so that they incorporate symbols important to indigenous culture. Red scarves will be offered to degree recipients and white ones to diploma and certificate recipients. The eagle, thought to serve as a messenger between First Peoples and the Creator, is represented with a feather on both scarves. The bestowing of an eagle feather recognizes the good work of others and is a gesture expressed with great significance.

In honour of the traditional Mohawk territory on which McGill University sits, an appliqué of the Hiawatha wampum belt is sewn onto the red scarves and represents the founding of the League of Six Nations, which includes the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, and Seneca and the Tuscarora nations.

The turtle, a symbol of creation for many first nations is represented on the white certificate scarves and is meant to represent all the Original Peoples of North America. The Iroquois, who tell that the earth was created on the turtle’s back, inspired the reference of North America as Turtle Island by Indigenous People. The McGill crest is placed at the centre of the scarves.

Read about the scarf ceremony in the McGill Reporter.

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