Mayor Hnatiw at lectern, seated veteran John McDonald and Elder Myrtle Calahaisn, standing in background, Jesse Sopko, Sturgeon County Director of Corporate Services and emcee for the event. – Lucie Roy Photos
by Lucie Roy
In recognition of Metis Week (Nov.10-16) Sturgeon County held their inaugural raising of the Metis Nation of Alberta flag on Friday afternoon.
Guests and Sturgeon County Mayor and Councillors Kristin Toms and Wayne Bokenfohr joined together to commemorate this important event with Metis Elder Myrtle Calahaisn, veteran John McDonald, Gary Gagnon, Vice-President Region 4 Metis Nation of Alberta, resident Lloyd Gwin of Cardiff and Shane Getson, MLA for Lac Ste-Anne-Parkland.
“We honour the Metis people and the important role they have played in the history of Sturgeon County, in the province and in the country, “said Sturgeon County Mayor Alanna Hnatiw.
Hnatiw went on to say, “Today we are proud to raise the Metis Nation of Alberta flag as a symbol of Sturgeon County’s recognition and celebration of the Metis people and their contribution to our culture.”
The ceremony included a few words from Gary Gagnon, Vice-President, Region 4, Metis Nation of Alberta, an opening prayer and veteran McDonald raising the flag as the Metis Anthem played on.
Gagnon proceeded to explain the meaning of the flag with its white infinity symbol on a blue background.
“It is a great honour to stand in front to offer some parts on the flag. I look above me and see the Treaty 6 flag and what that represents and now I see that the Metis flag will fly permanently beside our First Nation brothers and sisters and our relatives. And I am very happy to know that the Metis flag here will fly permanently.”
Gagnon went on to say the Metis flag is one of our very old flags. It predates Confederacy and goes back to the early 1800s and there are many stories about the flag and how it originated. The unity sign represents forever, a forever people with inherent rights, customs, traditions and to a large degree a land base that was guaranteed in a script and Alberta is the only province in Canada where we have Metis settlements and there are 8 of them, at one time there was 12 but four were disbanded.
“Today is a great day to honour the flag. The Metis were part of this community for a very long time. This flag represents all that who we are as a people and I love the infinity sign as we are to be forever people.”
Gagnon went on to say, “It is a special time for us to, to recognize one of our great leaders that passed away November 16, 1885—Louis Riel for his foresight to continue that forwardness- that foreverness.”
Veteran John McDonald raising the Metis flag.
Gary Gagnon, Myrtle Calahaisn, John McDonald, Shane Getson, Alanna Hnatiw, Wayne Bokenfohr and Doug Gwin.