MOUNT WILLIAM — There was a sense of unity, honour and recognition in the air as the Grand Council Flag of the Mi’kmaq Nation climbed skyward on the flag pole outside of the Pictou County Wellness Centre last week.
That feeling of togetherness issued forth from the remarks made prior to the flag raising in recognition of National Indigenous Heritage Month and National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21.
“We wanted to honour being on unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq and raise the council flag,” YMCA CEO Jim Pomeroy said in his opening.
Pictou Landing First Nation Chief Andrea Paul said this is another step in the journey taken with the YMCA and Wellness Centre.
“I just wanted to say that I am really proud today. When Jim got a hold of me and asked to put the Grand Council flag up, I could really relate to that. It really shows the recognition of the work we have been doing together. It’s really a testament to the good work that is happening here.”
A large group of supporters, along with children from the YMCA daycare, added to the positive mood under sunny skies.
Tonya Francis had the honour of smudging the flag prior to its hoisting. The crowd was told that smudging is a type of cleansing that helps start things with a positive feeling.
Elder Ralph Francis then followed with a reading of his favourite prayer, O Free Spirit, in both English and Mi’kmaq.
Wellness Centre COO Dave Hood was enthusiastic about the shared event.
“We’re just happy to be able to partner with the YMCA and the Pictou Landing First Nations and raise the flag today and show our support for National Indigenous Heritage Month. It’s one of the many things that the Wellness Centre is doing to work together to make Pictou County a good place to live.
Tonya Francis performs a smudging on the flag to cleanse it while RCMP Const. Shaylene Sutherland lends a hand. (Ray Burns photo)