Hagersville Allyship Award
Above: Graduating student Kolbi Williams receives her diploma from Principal Jeff Benner during Hagersville Secondary School’s ceremony.

Indigenous Allyship Award Recognizes Strength and Resilience on Path to Graduation 

THURSDAY, NOV. 4, 2021

The path to graduation often isn’t an easy one, but knowing you have a support system in place can make all the difference. 
That was the case for Kolbi Williams, who recently received her diploma from Hagersville Secondary School with a special honour; Williams, a Six Nations band member, is the first recipient of the Indigenous Allyship award, which recognizes strength of character in the milestone of completing the requirements of the Ontario secondary school diploma. 

“I’m very thankful for this award as it allowed me to realize that I can achieve great things in the face of adversity,” said Williams, who is completing an additional year of studies at Hagersville Secondary, and continues to be actively involved in the Indigenous Student Club and Ecosource at the school. She is planning to attend Western University next year with the long-term goal of becoming a doctor. “It’s also taught me that through many struggles and hardships, there will always be someone to root for you.”

"Kolbi has consistently demonstrated outstanding strength of character, kindness, and the ability to persevere."

Jeff Benner


The award will be given annually to a graduating Grand Erie student of Indigenous ancestry (inclusive of students who’ve self-identified as First Nations, Inuit or Métis), recognized for demonstrating resilience and perseverance in overcoming challenges to find personal success.

"Kolbi has consistently demonstrated outstanding strength of character, kindness, and the ability to persevere," said Jeff Benner, principal at Hagersville Secondary School. "Having the Indigenous Allyship award is another means for students to know that their work, voice and contribution to school life is valued. We are so very proud of Kolbi."

The award was made possible by retired Superintendent of Education Denise Martins, whose portfolio included Indigenous Education, as well as an anonymous donor, and includes $1000 to help students on their post-secondary paths. 

“Obtaining your diploma is always a great achievement, and for students who have overcome significant challenges and shown strength and resilience to get there, the future holds incredible opportunity,” said Kevin Graham, Superintendent of Education, whose portfolio includes Indigenous Education in Grand Erie. “I’m thrilled to see this award launched in Grand Erie, and to continue the focus on creating equitable, inclusive and responsive environments for each learner.” 

Grand Erie’s multi-year strategic plan includes a commitment to improving education achievement outcomes for all First Nations, Inuit and Métis students.

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