Exactly 140 years to the day of Chief Bobtail signing an adhesion to Treaty 6, the Treaty 6 Flag was raised in recognition to fly at Wetaskiwin city hall on Sept. 25.
“As long as the sun shines, as long as the grass grows, as long and the river flows, that’s how long the flag will fly at Wetaskiwin city hall,” said mayor Bill Elliot.
The Treaty 6 Flag Raising Ceremony was held not only to honour Treaty 6 but as another step towards reconciliation and unity between Wetaskiwin and the four bands of Maskwacis.
Elliot, an honorary witness for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, one of 60 across the country, says since his experience with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission he has wanted to bring the Treaty 6 Flag to Wetaskiwin.
“There’s a lot of history in our area,” said Ermineskin Cree Nation chief Randy Ermineskin.
“People often say we’re all treaty people and it’s true,” he added.
Ermineskin says in order for all people and communities to move forward education of the young generations is important.
“We need to learn to realize we have to get along,” said Ermineskin.
Louis Bull Tribe chief Irvin Bull spoke to the crowd of community attendees and school children of how he had been placed in a Residential School in Ermineskin for nine years. “It look a lot for me to heal.”
“I’m very grateful to see the recognition of Treaty 6,” said Bull.
“This recognition . . It’s a big thing,” he added.
Montana First Nation chief Darrell Stongman first spoke of the ancestors who, even before the treaties and in signing the treaties, had in mind a brighter future for their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
He says he would like to believe those ancestors were present for the City of Wetaskiwin’s recognition of Treaty 6 and that history. “They’re are smiling down upon us with approval.”
He added it was not just a better future the ancestors wanted, but a more educated one, meaning and education of and understanding of culture coming from both sides. “Hopefully that is a two-way street.”
“It is in our hands to teach them (children) respect. We need to explain these kinds of things for our young ones,” said Strongman.
“There’s is nothing in this world we can’t do together, but it takes all of us,” he added.
Samson Cree Nation chief Vern Saddleback says not only does the raising of the Treaty 6 Flag honour the past, and the fact that the City of Wetaskiwin sits on Treaty 6 land, but it also honours the future of reconciliation.
“This is a historic and momentous occasion,” said Saddleback.
“It’s very momentous to me and the whole region … We are all related,” he added.