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  • Vermilion Voice

Raising Flags For Reconciliation

Left; Exectutive Director of the Office of the Treaty Commisioner Harry Lafond, second year Child and Youth Care student Kerri Wolfe, Lakeland College’s President and CEO Alice Wainwright-Stewart, and Government of Alberta’s Minister of Secondary Education Marlin Schmidt.

Right; Rupertsland Institute - Metis Education Foundation Coordinator Lisa Savill, Lakeland College’s Board Chair Darrel Howell, second year Business student and member of the Student’s Association Jacey Funk, and MLA Richard Starke.

Approximately 200 dignitaries, staff, students and community members attended the Lakeland College flag raising ceremony in Vermilion on September 14.

A ceremony was also held at the Lloydminster campus, which included a pipe ceremony.

“Permanently flying the Treaty and Metis flags is one of many steps being taken at Lakeland to create a welcoming and supportive environment for Indigenous students, increase awareness of Indigenous culture and history among all Lakeland students and staff, and support reconciliation efforts. It’s our hope to create a more inclusive community based on the recognition of rights, respect, cooperation and partnership,” said Lakeland College President and CEO, Alice Wainwright-Stewart.

The Seekaskootch Drum Group from Onion Lake performed a First Nation’s Flag Song stemming from the early 1900’s as well as a Victory Song.

Members of the Seekaskootch Drum Group performing at the Lakeland College Treaty 6 and Metis Flag Raising event in Vermilion on September 14.

“There’s more to bringing people together than just putting them in the same place. Everyone needs to feel welcome on campus and feel like they belong in order to be successful. I’m honoured to join in such a historic occasion and want to commend Lakeland College for ensuring its students feel welcome, and for educating others on Indigenous people. It is important to ensure so that every Albertan can receive an education because every Albertan has a role to play in building a bigger and stronger Alberta. Diversity is one of Alberta’s strengths,” said Marlin Schmidt, Minister of Secondary Education for the Government of Alberta.

Lakeland College’s Manager of Indigenous Support Services, Clint Chocan emceed the event greeting municipal, provincial and Indigenous dignitaries in both Cree and English. Second year Child and Youth Care student Kerri Wolfe, and second year Business student and Student’s Association member Jacey Funk were participants in raising the Treaty 6 and Metis flags.

Poundmaker Cree Nation, Little Pine Cree Nation, Frog Lake Cree Nation, Onion Lake Cree Nation, Makwa Sakahikan Cree Nation, the Alberta Metis Association, Thunderchild Cree Nation, and Kehewin Cree Nation all had members participate in the flag raising ceremonies.

“Raising the Treaty 6 and Metis flags is a powerful symbol of our relationship with you; our Indigenous neighbours. This is an example of committing to reconciliation, and they will serve as reminders for all of us that care about making Lakeland College a more inclusive and welcoming place,” said Board Chair, Darrel Howell who felt a very moving experience having participated in the pipe ceremony in Lloydminster.

“I congratulate Lakeland College for their foresight and taking the initiative to provide opportunities to fill the gaps so that students come out well-rounded in understanding and move to relationship building and acknowledging Indigenous people for their special role in shaping this country, who we are today, and what we will be in the future,” said Harry Lafond, Executive Director of the Office of the Treaty Commissioner.

Rupertsland Institue’s Metis Education Foundation Coordinator Lisa Savill (left) and Northeast Manager Belle DyReyes (right) presented Lakend College President and CEO Alice Waright-Stewart (centre) with a plaque featuring the Metis sash and Hudson’s Bay blanket on September 14. Photos Angela Mouly

Lisa Saville and Belle Dy-Reyes presented Lakeland College with a plaque featuring a Metis sash and a Hudson’s Bay blanket.

Vermilion-Lloydminser MLA, Richard Starke felt that the symbolic gesture of the flag-raising

ceremonies went beyond symbolism.

“The thing that struck me is the concept of time and continuance. In order to be reconciled we have to maintain a meaningful partnership. The land shall endure, and all of us would do well to remember this, and at what better place than an institution of higher education. May the spirit of reconciliation be ongoing,” said Starke.

“After learning about our nation’s history, it is my hope that through today’s ceremony we can be an example of how to be kinder; and promote Indigenous rights, cooperation, and partnerships. Building on the next generation, there is an ongoing need to share events surrounding Indigenous culture, but this is a positive step towards reconciliation, said Wainwright-Stewart.

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