Indigenous Graduation Pow-wow

Every year, Writing Symbols Lodge invites our Indigenous graduates to celebrate their achievements alongside their family, friends and community. We gather at the University of Calgary for gift-giving, ceremony and a traditional Pow-wow.

Get involved

The Indigenous Graduation Pow-wow requires the support of students, faculty members, staff and volunteers, as well as sponsors. If you’re interested in volunteering your time leading up to or during the event, or if your company or organization would like to provide sponsorship, please email us at⁠


  • Congratulations from the University of Calgary leadership
  • Announcement of the student award winners
  • Thank you to all volunteers

The student awards are monetary awards for graduating Indigenous students. The three awards are the Royal Eagle Award, Dr. Olive Dickason Award and the CFUW Indigenous Graduate Award.

Read our tips on applying for student awards.

Every Pow-wow begins with the Grand Entry. This is a procession of all the dancers, leaders and students into the dance arena.

The Arena Director arranges the order of the procession and directs the participants on where and when they should go. Some of the dancers and a few other individuals will enter holding flags. These flags may include the Canadian flag, the University of Calgary’s flag, the flags of the local nations and the flags of sponsors for the event.

The Circle of Honour is a special gifting ceremony, which is held during the Pow-wow. This ceremony is presided over by Indigenous Spiritual Leaders (Ceremonial Elders) and includes a special honouring of Indigenous students who have received a degree from the University of Calgary in an accredited program. To participate, graduates must have been approved to graduate in an accredited degree program from the University of Calgary in the previous November or the June convocation ceremonies.

When the ceremony is about to take place, Grads will be called into the circle and will be presented with ceremonial gifts by the Spiritual leaders. As this is a ceremonial honouring, Graduates must be present on the academic year (Fall or Spring convocation) of their graduation in order to receive the traditional gifts. If you participate in this ceremony, please ensure that you obtain documents from the Native Centre regarding proper care of the ceremonial gifts. These documents are available at the reception desk during the event as well.

The Giveaway allows Indigenous Graduates to thank the community for coming out to be a part of the Pow-wow and is an important part of the celebration. After the dances, graduates will be invited to pass out these gifts to Pow-wow attendees and guests.

During the Indigenous Graduation Banquet and Pow-wow, we will have multiple screens displaying our Graduate Tribute PowerPoint presentation.

Graduates have the opportunity to submit a photo and a short message as a part of the presentation.

You have the opportunity to send in:

  • A photo of yourself and add it as an attachment
  • A 140-character (max) quote or message
  • Email them to


"Go big. Dare to fail and keep on going! Thank you to my family, my friends and my aunties who told me I could!"

The Métis sash is a traditional piece of clothing, created through a process called "finger weaving." We are grateful to offer our Métis graduates the opportunity to receive a sash presented by the Métis Nation of Alberta, Zone III. *Metis students must indicate on their registration form if they would like to receive a sash.

For more history of the Métis Sash or to learn about the six colours of the sash and their symbolic meanings, please visit

Pow-wow dancers during the Grand Entry

Chris Wedman

This event is open to all in the community and free to attend. 

Student awards information

Information coming soon!