Joye Walkus wore a 300-year-old blanket belonging to her late grandfather Henry Abel Bell to her convocation ceremony at the University of Victoria. The First Nations graduate earned a specialized degree in Aboriginal language revitalization. “I want[ed] my grandfather’s memory, spirit, him, to be there ... and this blanket was the biggest representation that I could think of,” Walkus told CBC. She is from the Kwakiutl Nation on Vancouver Island.
Walkus’ grandfather sold the blanket to the Royal BC Museum more than three decades ago, but part
of the sale’s condition was that if his children or grandchildren wanted to wear it, they were allowed. It was a long process to get the blanket from the museum, but it was worth it, Walkus said. “I couldn’t hold back the tears. It felt like my grandfather was hugging me,” she said of graduation day.