The Métis flag now occupies a place of honour outside the Town of Bonnyville’s administration building as well as in the council chamber.
Town Council, the Métis Nation of Alberta, local dignitaries, and community members came together for the flag raising last Thursday. The ceremony holds historic significance for the municipality.
“These are lands that the Métis and our Treaty Six neighbours occupied, and we need to recognize the amazing contributions, culture, and heritage that everybody brings,” said Bonnyville mayor Gene Sobolewski. “We’re all the same people and we need to recognize each other as all being one people,” he said.
Audrey Poitras, president of the Métis Nation of Alberta, offered her appreciation to Sobolewski and the town council for their commitment to reconciliation with the Métis and First Nations people in the region.
“This flag raising ceremony symbolizes the Town of Bonnyville’s commitment to the recognition of the Métis and First Nations people in this area and for all that they have [contributed], and for all they will continue to contribute to this town and surrounding communities,” Poitras said.
“It sends a message to everyone that by recognizing the contributions of Indigenous people to this town, province, and country, we are on the right path to heal our people, families, communities. And to me, that is how we get to true reconciliation.”
Poitras said there has been considerable progress toward reconciliation, but there’s much more to do.
“I believe by working together, listening to each other’s stories, creating a bond, creating a partnership built on trust, then and only then can we truly reach our goals of equality and unity,” she said.
The Métis flag will be displayed in the council chamber alongside the flags of Canada, Alberta, the Town of Bonnyville, and Treaty Six.
Sobolewski said having the flags in the chamber guides councillors in their responsibilities.
“We will all consider, in our deliberations, as we look up at each and every one of those entities because they’re all one and that’s what we need to do,” he said.