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Wednesday, November 16, 2011 

City Of Regina Makes History With Raising Of Metis Flag At City Hall

REGINA — The City of Regina makes history once again.
“We may be the first city to do it, but it wasn’t about us it was about the recognition of our Metis people,” said Mayor Pat Fiacco.

On Tuesday, the Metis flag was raised in the courtyard of city hall where it’s to become a permanent fixture along side the national, provincial, municipal and Treaty 4 flags.

The Treaty 4 flag was raised Oct. 16 in a similar ceremony at city hall.

“There’s no question that we’re making history and we’re certainly hoping other cities will follow,” said Fiacco. “It is a recognition of the history of our country, particularly, in our province and in our city in respect to both First Nations and Metis culture and peoples.”

Russell Fayant, member of the Regina Riel Metis Council and a teacher at the Saskatchewan Urban Native Teacher Education Program, commended the mayor and his council for being brave enough to be the first city in Canada to fly the Treaty 4 and Metis flags.

“It’s quite a momentous occasion,” he said. “I see it as a metaphor. First Nation and Metis are people starting to claim their rightful places in Regina, in Saskatchewan and in society. Symbols can be powerful things and I think both those flags speak to the growing recognition that people of this province have for our contributions.”

During the event Fayant provided a history of the Metis flag. The flag consists of two circles coming together, which represents the joining of two cultures — indigenous and European — to create a new and distinct culture, he said.

“It was given to us as a gift from the Northwest Company in 1816, which makes it the oldest flag indigenous to Canada,” said Fayant. “The Fleur-de-lis and the British ensign were imported and the Maple Leaf didn’t come around until 1876.”

Fayant said to witness the event was both motivating and miraculous.

“As a Metis person living in Regina we don’t have very many symbols of our culture to reflect back at us,” said Fayant. “For the Metis youth, who attended the ceremony today, I hope that they look at that flag and think that they have things to aspire to and be proud to show their culture.”

The event coincides with national celebrations commemorating Metis Leader Louis Riel who died on Nov. 16, 1885.

Fayant said the irony was not lost on the Metis people. He said Riel would have passed by that site on his way to court 126 years ago.

“I would like to think that his spirit is still with us today and would see this as quite a turn around in history and the beginning, of hopefully, a meaningful and positive reconciliation between Metis and non-Metis citizens,” said Fayant.

The annual Louis Riel Day Vigil will begin Wednesday at 4:45 p.m. in Optimist Park. Anyone is welcome to attend the event. Participants will travel down dewdney to the RCMP barracks. It is to include some speakers and silent vigil and prayer. The event will end with a supper at Regina Metis Sport and Culture on 1235 2nd Ave. N.

Regina Leader-Post

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