Indigenous Graduation Scarves

History and meaning

The original idea for the scarf (or stole) came from Indigenous alumnus, Dene Beaudry [BA/14] in his graduating year. He envisioned a physical and visual item that would distinguish and highlight First Nation, Métis and Inuit graduates as Indigenous peoples. Extensive dialogue with staff, students and faculty followed, and the idea of the scarf was born.

Designers looked at examples from other post-secondary institutions and created a template that was based on specific colours and symbols that were meaningful to both Indigenous people in general and to Indigenous U of M students.

Migizii Agamik – Bald Eagle Lodge highlights and celebrates Indigenous cultures, and is a vibrant and supportive home-away-from-home for students. The design team also took this gathering space to heart when choosing colours.

The scarf’s main colour is purple as it represents balance, created by blending blue and red. In traditional teachings, women are represented by blue (the colour of water) and men are represented by red (the colour of fire). By combining the two, we find a balance of male and female (fire and water). The yellow, red, white and blue ribbons represent the official colours of Migizii Agamik, as determined through a traditional naming ceremony led by Elder Charlie Nelson.

Debuting the scarves

Scarves were gifted to all Indigenous graduates who attended the Pow Wow in May 2014, as well as to Indigenous alumni in attendance. They have since become a treasured symbol of pride and honour within the Indigenous community, representing the foundation of culture and the achievement and success of our students. In 2016, they became recognized as part of official academic dress.

How to get your scarf

Scarves are presented at the Annual Traditional Pow Wow to Indigenous students who self-identify as First Nations, Métis or Inuit. Students are encouraged to wear their scarves at their University of Manitoba Convocation.

If an eligible and registered graduate is unable to attend the Pow Wow but would like a scarf to wear for Convocation, a scarf can be picked up in person at Convocation from one of two locations:

1. Max Bell Centre (Fort Garry campus) Convocation floor – Indigenous Student Centre table 

2. Ongomiizwin Education Room S206 in Medical Services Building at 750 Bannatyne Avenue (Bannatyne campus)

If you received a scarf at Pow Wow but forgot to bring it to Convocation, you can borrow one by leaving a piece of government-issued ID or a $50 deposit at the Indigenous Student Centre table. Scarves must be returned immediately following your ceremony.

Scarves will not be mailed to students or given out after Convocation. They are meant to be worn at the Annual Traditional Graduation Pow Wow and/or Convocation as a visual symbol of cultural acknowledgement. They are not just souvenirs.