A ceremonial land recognition event will take place in Swift Current on Sept. 27 to acknowledge the area’s past and to raise the Treaty 4 and MÃ©tis Nation flags as permanent new additions to the flag court along Central Avenue North.
The event is hosted by the Swift Current and Area Truth and Reconciliation Committee with the support of the City of Swift Current and other partners in the community.
The event and ceremony will take place in the run-up to the first observance of National Truth and Reconciliation Day in Canada on Sept. 30.
Bula Ghosh, a member of the Swift Current and Area Truth and Reconciliation Committee, felt the event will be a landmark occasion in the history of Swift Current and southwest Saskatchewan to give recognition to the region’s past.
“We understand how important it is as a country to head towards reconciliation,” she said. “In order to do that, I think some of the basic things have to be done. And the very first thing is recognizing that this is Treaty 4 land.”
She appreciates the decision taken by the City of Swift Current at a council meeting in late July to add two flag poles to the flag court for the permanent display of the Treaty 4 and MÃ©tis Nation flags with the other flags that are already flying there.
“By having the flags as a permanent feature means this recognition of it, as the Treaty 4 and MÃ©tis Nation flags will be flying always in Swift Current,” she said. “So that is why I think it’s a landmark occasion to set the stage for future steps for working towards reconciliation. It’s a very important step the City of Swift Current has taken and I commend them for it.”
The Swift Current and Area Truth and Reconciliation Committee felt it was important to have an event that serves as a recognition of National Truth and Reconciliation Day and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action on commemoration, which includes Call to Action #80 to establish a statutory holiday to commemorate the history and legacy of residential schools and to honour survivors, their families and communities.
“We thought this is a good way of starting,” she said. “Sept. 30 is not just a token holiday. So let’s think of it that it is going to be a good start for us this year to move ahead with other things that we need to put in place for the recognition. The land is an important part. If we recognize the land, then we’ll recognize the people. The land means a lot. The land we’re enjoying and we’re making a living on is the result of the treaties that were signed, and in this case it was Treaty 4.”
The members of the Swift Current and Area Truth and Reconciliation Committee include representatives from different organizations as well as individuals who want to make a contribution towards reconciliation. Ghosh felt the work of the committee benefits from the contributions of those diverse organizations and individuals.
“We can get different perspectives, we can understand what different organizations would be thinking and put something together,” she said.
The committee’s goal is to raise awareness in the community about the importance of reconciliation, and it has organized several events since 2015.
The committee felt it was important to consult with Indigenous knowledge keepers and members of the community during the planning of the Sept. 27 flag raising event. This consultation took place on Aug. 4 and there was also representation from the Nekaneet First Nation.
The City of Swift Current will be proclaiming Sept. 26 to Oct. 2 as Truth and Reconciliation Week. The flag raising ceremony will take place on Sept. 27 at 10 a.m. at the flag court. There will be a blessing and prayer before the flags are raised, and thereafter those in attendance will participate in a round dance.
This will be followed by a special dance performance across the street in Kiwanis Park by knowledge keeper Joseph Naytowhow. He will be accompanied by fiddler Austin Castle.
“All that we’re doing is to pave the path towards reconciliation,” Ghosh said about the event. “It’s not going to be an easy journey, but the more people join this journey and walk hand in hand together for this common purpose, the better the chances of us achieving it sooner than later.”
Anyone interested in attending the event or for more information, contact Ghosh by calling 306-774-6042 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org