Louisette Mallette and Jean Maringer hosted a ceremony at Old Scouts’ Island on June 20, raising the Anishinaabe First Nations and Metis flags in honour of the 25th National Indigenous Peoples Day.
Around a dozen people were in attendance for the ceremony that was held one day before National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21, because there was rain in the forecast for that day.
Members of the Strong Kweg Drumming Circle played “Strong Women’s Song,” “Travelling Song” and more Indigenous music for the celebration of First Nations, Inuit and Métis cultures. However, it was also a somber event. Prayers were recited and wreaths were laid acknowledging the 215 Indigenous children found buried at a former residential school in Kamloops, and the many more victims that have yet to be discovered.
Mallette is not a First Nations member, but she’s always been interested in native culture. She says she’s been asking the municipality, which owns the land, to put up a second flagpole on Old Scouts’ Island so they can fly the First Nations flags year-round.
Those requests were addressed at the June 15 WN council meeting, where Director of Economic Development and Community Services Stephan Poulin said the municipality is in discussion with Chief Scott McLeod of Nipissing First Nation so they can ensure they are acting appropriately. Once they have a full report, the item will return to council.
For this year, the flags were flown on the pole that usually holds the Canadian flag and were taken down after National Indigenous Peoples Day ended.