Lethbridge College has announced that Peter Weasel Moccasin will receive an honorary degree at this year’s college convocation ceremony April 27.
Weasel Moccasin will receive a Bachelor of Applied Science – Ecosystem Management. He 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 was described as kind, warm-hearted and humble, in a press statement.
“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,” said 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,” said 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.
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. He is, himself, a residential school survivor. He speaks about the past with an honesty and truth that is both humbling and eye-opening to the hard realities that have occurred, reads the statement. 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,” said Shanda Webber, Lethbridge College manager of Recruitment and Indigenous Services.