A major step towards reconciliation took place in Swift Current on September 27 when the Treaty 4 and Métis Nation flags were hoisted as new permanent additions to the flag yard along North Central Avenue.
The land recognition ceremony took place during a week officially proclaimed National Truth and Reconciliation Week by the City of Swift Current.
The flag raising ceremony had added significance due to the first celebration of National Truth and Reconciliation Day in Canada on September 30.
The event was hosted by the Swift Current and the Area Truth and Reconciliation Committee with support from the City of Swift Current and other community partners.
The Treaty 4 flag was hoisted by Dale Mosquito, an Elder from the Nekaneet First Nation. The Métis Nation Flag was hoisted by Ron Woelk, President of Local # 35 of Swift Current Métis. It was a memorable and moving moment for both of them.
“For me to be here today is an honor,” Mosquito said afterward. “It’s good to raise the flags. Treaties have been around for a long time, and today it is quite an honor to have the flag displayed here in the town of Swift Current. “
He felt it was very important that the two flags now float permanently on the flag yard alongside the Canadian flag and the flags of all provinces and territories.
“This flag gets vibrant when it’s windy,” he said. “We stand on mother earth, but we hear the wind, the leaves that blew today. It’s a change of season, but for us today it’s a living entity.
Woelk said it was both very exciting and sad to be in attendance and to help raise the Métis Nation flag.
“He recognizes that it happened, and it takes 150 years for people to recognize that it really happened a long time ago,” he said. “It is like a dream come true that the flag is hoisted and it is permanent.”
The flag raising ceremony brought together community leaders, elders, dignitaries, grade 6 students from Central School and residents. Several dignitaries gave speeches and the event ended with a round dance around the flag poles by those in attendance. Next, a music and dance celebration program took place in the nearby Kiwanis Park.
Speeches were delivered during official deliberations by Nekaneet First Nation Chief Alvin Francis, Wendy Gervais, Métis Nation West Regional Director of West Region 3 and Minister of Veterans of the Métis Nation of Saskatchewan, Mary Culbertson, Treaty Commissioner of Saskatchewan, Everett Hindley, MPP for Swift Current and Mayor of Swift Current. Bridal al.
Chief Francis expressed his gratitude for the day to honor the Treaty 4 and Métis Nation flags in Swift Current.
“In other words, it took a long time to honor the Treaty 4 area here, because we signed the treaty in 1874, which is a long time,” he said. “We honor our ancestors because we were able to survive what was given to us by the authorities of the Canadian government and we are proud to be here today.
He noted that his community has a very personal connection to the Treaty 4 flag as it was designed for the late Gordon Oakes, who served as Chief of the Nekaneet First Nation. He remembered something Oakes told him, who said that First Nations and non-Indigenous people should be like a team of horses working together.
“If you’ve ever seen a team of horses working in unison, this is where we need to be,” said Chef Francis. “He told this simple story of us working together to make the future a better place for all. This is all here in Canada, because this is how we should move forward in unison, because I want my children, my grandchildren and yet unborn children to be equal, to walk hand in hand with one another. with the others. This is where we need to be.
He stressed that there is no other choice for everyone but to work together, as they will continue to live in the same region.
“We have to work together,” he said. “We have no choice in this matter, because I always like to say this: you are not going anywhere and I am not going anywhere. So let’s walk hand in hand, make this world a better place for all, understand that we can really talk to each other. “
Métis Nation Regional Director for West Region 3, Wendy Gervais, spoke about her connection to the two flags and what it meant to her to see them hoisted during the ceremony.
“As I looked around and saw that orange sea, as I watched the Treaty 4 flag being hoisted, I watched with pride, for they are part of my people,” he said. she declared. “As I watched the Métis Nation flag being hoisted, I almost cried because it has been over 200 years in this region that our people have traveled this region, we have lived in this region. “
She spoke of the struggles the Métis have faced and their struggle for identity as they have been hidden as a nation for many years.
“I have never been so proud to see the flag of the Métis nation hoisted today, because as a nation, we were laughed at, we were pushed down,” she said. declared. “We were told that we are not a people, we are not a nation. We are a people, we are a nation. That flag up there, that infinity flag says it. We are a nation that will last forever and ever. … We are a distinct and unique culture, just like any other aboriginal nation, and we have to embrace that. We need to learn more, we as Métis need to learn who we are, as do many of our Indigenous Nations ”
Treaty Commissioner Mary Culbertson said it is important to commemorate the sacrifices made in the past.
“We can celebrate our resilience as First Nations and Indigenous Peoples, but we must commemorate as non-Indigenous peoples the sacrifices that were made to build this country,” she noted. “That there are graves that our elders said were still there, but they have now been discovered. The children died and never came home, and it has to be taught in our schools no matter how badly we may feel it. This information must be there, because it cannot be forgotten.
She encouraged the public to learn about the past and also about the history of the Cypress Hills and this region.
“To know more about this shared story, because it’s not a great story, but we can make our story a good story when we learn from each other, when we talk to each other and want a better life for everyone, ”she said.
Swift Current MP Everett Hindley referred to steps taken by the provincial government to recognize September 30 as the Day of Truth and Reconciliation. He thanked the community leaders for the work they have done to make this important day in Swift Current possible to hoist the two flags.
Mayor Al Bridal said he was honored to participate in this very special ceremony, which is a milestone for the community of Swift Current.
“Today we are gathered to celebrate a celebration of community, of coming together, of recognition and reconciliation,” he said. “We are here to recognize the tragedies of the past, tragedies from which scars remain and new wounds are still opening. While we cannot turn back these tragedies, we can stand united and ensure that history never repeats itself. It starts with taking action like the one we are taking today, and it only happens if we do it together as a community. “