The original idea of having a stole (or scarf) came from an Indigenous student, Dene Beaudry, in his graduating year. He envisioned a physical and visual item that would distinguish and highlight First Nation, Metis, and Inuit graduates as Indigenous peoples. Extensive dialogue followed that included staff, students, and faculty, and the idea of creating a stole 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 Indigenous people in general and Indigenous U of M students specifically.
The stole’s main colour is purple because it is a colour of balance: it is created from the blending of blue and red. In traditional teachings, women are represented by the colour blue (the colour of water) and men are represented by the colour red (the colour of fire). By combining blue and red together, we find a balance of male and female (fire and water). The yellow, red, white, and blue ribbons represent the official traditional colours of Migizii Agamik that were determined through a traditional naming ceremony that was led by well-known and respected Elder Charlie Nelson. Although these colours have numerous traditional teachings associated with them, they also represent the balance between male and female.
The creation of the stole coincided with the celebrations of the 25th Annual Graduation Pow Wow, and so the inaugural debut of the stole occurred in May of 2014. They were gifted to all Indigenous graduates who attended the Pow Wow that year, as well as all of the Indigenous alumni who were there. The stole has quickly become a treasured symbol of pride and honour within the Indigenous community because it represents the foundation of culture and the achievement and success of our students, and in 2016, it became a recognized as part of official academic dress.