The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations held a flag raising ceremony on Saturday at Marquis Downs Racetrack, unveiling a banner that honours all Indigenous children who were taken away from their families and no longer returned home after attending residential schools. The flag, designed by Tara Moccasin-Aisaican, had two orange stripes at both ends and a white center with the handprint of her daughter Ada Jo-Lee Scott.
Elder Orvin Scott began the event with a prayer using the Nehiyawak language where he explained later that he prayed for everyone present to be guided accordingly on the paths that we take every day.
“The Maker gave us each a road to follow and I pray that you will be able to see along the way.”
Warren “Robby” Nekurak, who spoke in behalf of Aisaican, said the flag raising ceremony is a gesture of goodwill to all their relatives who persevered through the residential school system that was used by Canada to integrate Indigenous Peoples to the western culture.
“Children of residential schools are being recovered and recognized. I’m here to say today that they are heroes and the survivors, hear me, they finally returned home. [They] rest well knowing they ushered in a new sense of faith, a new sense of hope, and a new truth that will prevail over the hearts of those who tried to hush our suffering.”
Nekurak added that it is not only in residential schools were Indigenous children lost their lives but other Indigenous Peoples in Indian hospitals, sanatoriums, and Indian day schools.
Falynn Baptiste sang the Canadian National Anthem in Cree and said that the version was not the direct translation of the English version. “Our language is very descriptive. It’s very beautiful. It’s very powerful. So, it almost tells a different story. The same words in the anthem in Cree, are the same words that we use in our prayers. We are strong people.”
“Kanata means a clean place, a pure place. It’s our land, not our land as ownership but our land to keep. It’s our home. It’s where our blood runs, where people are from. So, it reminds us to walk with love. Love for all people. Love that we can show our children.”
Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations Chief Bobby Cameron said there are still more children that were lost during the residential school era that need to get home.
“Every child matters. It matters right now in 2021. The biggest obstacle right now is the social services. They make it difficult and challenging for our parents or grandparents to bring our kids home where they belong.”
“You know one day First Nations people will be able to beat alcohol and drugs. It can be done and once we reach that healthy life, then we begin to heal. It has affected my family and thousands of families right across this country. We have to beat alcohol and drugs. We have to raise our children in an alcohol and drug free home.”