The Wolastqey Flag flies at the Meduxnekeag Consolidated School

by | Oct 13, 2022

‘I can feel my ancestors watching today,’ Elder Lisa Sappier

There were drums, sacramental smoke and children paying attention by the flagpoles at Meduxnekeag Consolidated School on Wednesday afternoon, Oct. 12.

The weather was calm and comfortable as the entire school gathered outside to witness the raising of the Wolastqey flag alongside the standard New Brunswick and Canadian Flags.

Chief Tim Paul told the students that flag raising creates a sense of belonging to the community.

“It’s been a difficult year for the Indigenous people,” said Chief Paul. “We are still struggling with the details of the residential schools, but we stand strong and resilient. This is history that needs to be shared and understood.”

School Principal Christa Sprague said they put efforts into place as soon as they received the flag last year from the Wolastoq Education Center. They placed an order for a new flagpole last year, and they recently put it in place. It was time for the ceremony.
Before the flag raising, deep bass music sounded from the Drumming Circle. Eighty of the total student body of 650 are Indigenous.

“Ancestors have lived and cared for this land for generations,” said Principal Sprague to open the ceremony. “That is the truth. The land we stand on is the unceded land of the Wolastqey. Today we raise the flag in support of one another.”

Elder Lisa Sappier led the ceremony by thanking the students for recognizing her and her First Nations people.

“We look forward to growing with you. We love teaching, and by putting this flag up, you are giving us the stage to show who we are,” said Sappier. “These ceremonies are important to us,” she said. “I want to teach the little ones, who are the important ones. I can feel my ancestors watching today. This is the first time flying our flag at a school.”

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Before leaving the podium, Elder Sappier said a prayer. Then she ceremoniously prepared the flag area.
The Eagle Drummers resumed drumming and chanting while the white flag Wolastqey flag, with two canoeing in the centre, was flown for the first time.

Principal Sprague said promoting and educating Indigenous history and culture is a priority at her school.

“The Department of Education has taken a strong stance to promote the First Nation races within the curriculums,” said Sprague. “Teachers also have supplementary resources available on the subject.”

A First Nations liaison is available to assist in the classroom during subjects focused around First Nation people. There are always Indigenous cultural activities during lunch hour. She said the significance of a flag in front of a school couldn’t be missed.

“Children need to be seen,” she said. “The Indigenous community needs to be seen, and now it will be. We are all on a journey of learning as much as we can about the truth.”

The feedback for the ceremony was overwhelmingly positive. She received a large volume of emails of appreciation from both Indigenous and non-Indigenous members of the community.

“Most emails said it was long overdue,” said Sprague. “People appreciated how culturally sensitive this is. We are finding our small way to action the Call to Action. It’s tiny things that can make a big difference.”

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