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‘Reconciliation in action’

Mi'kmaq Grand Council flag to fly permanently at Grenfell Campus

By Melanie Callahan

Grenfell Campus further demonstrated its commitment to respecting and honouring Indigenous culture and heritage today.

Students Brittney Pittman and Kaylee Sullivan helped raise the Mi’kmaq Grand Council flag at Grenfell Campus.
Photo: Submitted

President Vianne Timmons; Dr. Jeff Keshen, vice-president (Grenfell Campus); and students Kaylee Sullivan and Bittney Pittman raised the Grand Council flag of the Mi’kmaw Nation with Dr. Mi’sel Joe, chief of Miawpukek First Nation, and Brendan Mitchell, chief of Qalipu First Nation, on June 11.

The flag will fly next to the Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Memorial University flags.

‘More than a flag’

“Today’s flag raising represents an important milestone in the recognition of the Mi’kmaw people of Newfoundland and the Mi’kmaq Grand Council,” said Chief Mitchell.

“For Qalipu First Nation, the flying of the Mi’kmaq Grand Council flag is another example of reconciliation in action as we move forward in the spirit of mutual respect and positive change. We are grateful and appreciative of the support shown by Memorial University and Grenfell Campus in recognizing the rich culture, history and presence of all Mi’kmaq.”

As the province’s only university, Memorial has an obligation, not just to raise awareness, but to educate and share knowledge with others, said Dr. Timmons, as she told the story of her own Indigenous heritage and its personal significance to her.

A man in Indigenous regalia at an outdoor podium
Mi’sel Joe Chief of Miawpukek First Nation addresses the gathering at the ceremony.
Photo: Submitted

The flag signifies a commitment to collaboration and mutual respect, said Chief Joe.

“This is more than a flag. This is a reminder of who we are and where we came from. We need to educate ourselves and we need to educate those around us,” he said.

“This is an incredible first start and we want to work together with those who want to listen and work with us. I started this incredible journey many years ago and this is an important milestone.”

‘Alive and proud’

Kaylee Sullivan, a Grenfell historical studies student, said the raising of the flag is a celebration of Mi’kmaw people — and to honour them.

“I know from my own personal experience, being a Mi’kmaw woman is something I take great pride in,” she said.

“It truly is a momentous occasion, not only for current Grenfell students, but past alumni as well, and of course, for the students of the future and for the city of Corner Brook because it shows that Mi’kmaw people live here and that we are alive and proud of our culture.”

Premier Andrew Furey, who meets regularly with the province’s Indigenous leaders, noted the initiative’s role in working towards reconciliation.

“We work together on many Indigenous issues — always listening and working to get a better understanding,” he said.

“It’s about education for all of us and how we can better work toward reconciliation. We come with an open mind and open heart and we realize the steps we take together won’t always be easy and, at times, we will be faced with difficult decisions. We need to make them and raising the flag today is an important step forward.”

‘Spirit of mutual respect’

Also part of the event was the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Grenfell Campus and Qalipu First Nation that will help to align priorities identified in Memorial’s Strategic Framework for Indigenization.

“The MOU is a commitment to collaborate on initiatives that further the cultural, economic and environmental goals of Qalipu through joint initiatives in research, experiential learning and public engagement,” said Dr. Keshen.

“These initiatives will bring the resources of Qalipu and Grenfell together in a spirit of mutual respect, mutual contributions and mutual benefit. Some specific elements include greater opportunities for engaged learning and research.”

To view the event, please visit Grenfell Campus’s Facebook page.

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