Around 100 teachers, students, veterans, elders, and board members gathered at the front doors of the Saskatchewan Rivers Public School Division Education Centre on Wednesday morning to witness the historical raising of the Treaty 6 and Metis flags, alongside the Canadian and Province of Saskatchewan flags, in the spirit of reconciliation.
SRPSD Director of Education Robert Bratvold said the flag raising is an important visible reminder of the division’s commitment to the Indigenous people of Treaty 6 and the Metis Nation.
“We’re doing this so the students and families of our community can see themselves in the flags that we fly at the education centre,” said Bratvold. “We’re doing this because actions that follow words of reconciliation are crucial.”
The four veterans and several students from the John Diefenbaker School who were invited to officially raise the four flags that stand in front of the education centre together were accompanied by a flag song courtesy of Muskoday drum group Prairie Thunder.
Emcee of the event, Superintendent of Schools Jennifer Hingley, said that students are an important part of the process, “so that they bear witness to the work that we are trying to do to improve our community.”
The feeling of community was strong in the cold morning air as the Metis national anthem was sung by St. Louis teacher Angela Rancourt in honour of the rising of the Metis flag.
“Doing things like this, being able to acknowledge our Metis children in schools, that’s truth and reconciliation,” said Metis Nation-Saskatchewan Regional Director Sherry McLennan. “They need to have role models so when they grow up, maybe they’ll become teachers and educators too.”
Three student representatives from Carlton Comprehensive High School graced the crowd with a cultural rendition of the Canadian national anthem, with each verse sung in their own native languages.
The ceremony was closed with a prayer by Elder Liz Settee, a lifelong supporter and advocate for Indigenous youth and families who Hingley credited as one of the reasons the school division has come as far as it has.