50 Grads, 50 Years

In honour of Champlain College Saint-Lambert’s 50th anniversary, we followed up with 50 of our graduates to highlight their achievements.


In honour of the Champlain Saint-Lambert’s 50th anniversary, the college has followed up with 50 of its alumni to see where their paths have led after their time in Cegep. These 50 former students have gone on to accomplish amazing things and their paths show just how much is possible for a Champlain grad.

Tahothoratie Cross

How this grad helped build a community for Indigenous students at Champlain.

Despite graduating only a few years ago, Tahothoratie Cross has already managed to leave an important legacy at Champlain College.

Cross (Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management, 2020) was one of a small group of students who formed the Indigenous Student Ambassadors at Champlain Saint-Lambert and advocated for the College to become a more welcoming place for Indigenous students.

Cross said that coming from the school system in Kahnawake, he was excited to come Champlain for Cegep because of its small size and reputation for a personalized touch.

“I started the program and it was the first time I went to school outside my community,” he said. “The people in my program were really nice, but I was having a hard time fitting in with them.”

“A lot of them spoke French and they didn’t grow up in my community, so I felt I couldn’t engage with them. A lot of that was the language barrier.”

Cross felt isolated since there were only a handful of other Indigenous students at the College.

“A lot of times I would end up sitting in my car, I didn’t have a place to go, didn’t have anyone to hang out with,” he recalled.

But all of that changed when he joined together with a few of his peers to create a student group which provided Indigenous students with peer support, mentorship, leadership, and advocacy opportunities.

Read the story of how the idea sparked here: Indigenizing a campus, inspiring a city

Through the program, the student ambassadors have provided input on curriculum, hosted presentations, organized awareness events, and shared experiences with faculty during professional development training.

The efforts of the ambassadors led Champlain College to give a land acknowledgement for the first time at its convocation ceremony, and provide a space for an Indigenous resource centre, along with other long-term commitments.

Read more: How these Kanien’kehá:ka students are trying to Indigenize a Quebec college

After Cross helped establish the student group, he felt at least one obstacle hindering his success had been eliminated.

“I felt there was a community set up for me, but I still had the language barrier,” he said.

Cross struggled to learn French as his third language and couldn’t pass his required French credit to graduate.

“I was doing well in other classes but there would always be my failing grade in my French,” he said. “That really derailed my whole path. Now my three year program ended up being four-and-a-half solely because I couldn’t pass the French classes.”

But Cross persevered, refusing to throw in the towel and keeping at it despite his mounting anxiety.

“I would wake up feeling physically sick before the French classes,” he said. “And that really affected the school work, I dreaded presentations, I was so scared.”

Finally, Cross was able to overcome his fears and his struggles and passed the course thanks to his hard work and “a lot of extra support from the teachers” in the department.

Cross was awarded the Lieutenant Governor’s Award (Youth Medal) for his involvement, determination and constant strive to create a positive influence within his community.

Since completing Cegep, Cross has gone on to study in Art Education at Bishop’s University.

He is also the Chairperson of the Kahnawake Combined Schools Committee, the governing body of the education system in the community, as well as a post-secondary representative.

In July 2022, Cross appeared at a major funding announcement for Indigenous education programs alongside members of the First Nations Education Council.

Cross’s advice for current students and recent graduates: “It comes down to using your voice. There’s a lot of opportunities out there and making sure that your voice is being heard is really important. Whether it’s speaking up or going for a position you’re passionate about, make sure you have a presence in your community.”

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