‘I am very proud’: Manitoba grandfather and grandson graduate high school in same class

A grandfather and grandson duo proudly graduated alongside each other at the same northern Manitoba school.

Donning blue caps and gowns, John James Easter, 76, and Percy Knight, 19, graduated in the same class Tuesday night through the adult education program at Frontier Mosakahiken School.

“I’m very proud and I’m honoured that I graduated with my grandson. That makes me happy,” Easter said in an interview with CTV News Winnipeg.

It was a day Easter never thought would come.

He left school when he was 16, and started working as a fisherman.

He envied his friends who got to graduate. When he got married and had kids of his own, he encouraged his family to get the education he was never able to.

Last fall, he drove Knight to enroll in the adult education program offered in Mosakahiken Cree Nation.

He went inside, and one of the teachers tried to convince him to enroll, as well.

“I said ‘give me one good reason why I should go back to school at age 75,'” he recalled,

“She told me ‘you’d be one proud grandparent if you march up the aisle with your grandchildren to pick up your diplomas,’ and then I said ‘okay, I’m in.'”

John James Easter poses for a graduation portrait. (Janet Knight/Facebook)

It wasn’t always easy.

Both Easter and Knight thought about dropping out on more than one occasion.

Knight said he missed his late Kookum, Easter’s wife, who recently passed away.

“I didn’t feel good enough. I felt off because I was lonely and just missing her because she was my best friend,” he said.

“She gave me motivation and even he gave me motivation to go to school. I just kind of stuck to that, and I did it.”

Percy Knight is pictured at his convocation ceremony in Mosakahiken Cree Nation on June 25, 2024. He wears a pin with his late Kookum’s face on it as a tribute to her memory. (Janet Knight/Facebook)

Easter also struggled at times, and thought about throwing in the towel.

He persisted because he knew walking across the stage to collect his diploma could help others do the same.

“I can inspire my community and the young people here to take advantage of this program. It’s right there in our community.”

– With files from CTV’s Taylor Brock

Percy Knight (left) and John James Easter (right) toss their taps in the air after their high school graduation ceremony on June 25, 2024 in Mosakahiken Cree Nation. (Janet Knight/Facebook)

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