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It’s not just a flag, it’s a commitment

First Girls' Hockey Day in Kerrobert saw the Treaty 6 and Métis flags join the Canadian and Saskatchewan flags on the wall in the Kerrobert arena.

KERROBERT — History was made in the Kerrobert arena Nov. 18. The first ever Girls’ Hockey Day in Kerrobert was held, with four games played over the course of the day.

After the first game, a special ceremony to raise the Treaty flag 6 and Métis flag in the arena was the agenda.

Marli Shepard, recreation director for Kerrobert, helped organize the Girls’ Hockey Day. With the plans for the upcoming event, Shepard knew there had been plans in the works prior to the pandemic to honour the treaty and Métis nations by placing the flags. Kerrobert resident Tyson Wuttunee, who was instrumental from the start with the flag-raising, was asked to perform the service on the inaugural day.

Wuttunee, who had a daughter and a niece who were playing in Kerrobert that day, jumped at the chance to make the event extra special.

“In the Indigenous culture, there are proper procedures we must follow when putting up a flag,” said Wuttunee. In the Indigenous culture, there are rules about who can raise the flags, so Wuttunee sought out Chief Evan Taypotat. Taypotat is the chief of the Kahkewistahaw First Nation in Treaty 4 and is also a war veteran, therefore he was able to conduct the flag raising in the elders’ eyes.

Wuttunee’s mother, who had received teachings from her elders before her, stood as the elder for the event. Wuttunee also reached out to Shylo Benson, a former hockey player Wuttunee had coached in previous years, to play the drum for the flag song.

“When the treaties were signed with the Canadian government years ago, our culture played this song. It has been passed from generation to generation and now we play it when reconciliation is being recognized,” said Wuttunee.

Wuttunee said he felt the ceremony was meant to be. After planning this event for close to two years, it all came together for him.

“Having my family, friends and community there to witness the raising of the flags, it’s a full circle moment for the Indigenous culture and for me. I hope with each flag ceremony we have everyone gains a better understanding of what message is really being conveyed,” added Wuttunee.

Rachel Usselman, defensive player for the Western Prairie Junior Klippers, was asked by the elder to sing the Métis anthem. President of the WP Junior Klippers, Mike Cullen, said the whole team was honoured to be a part of the memorable ceremony.

“Nine girls from the team were present for the flag ceremony. The message from Chief Taypotat was strong. Reconciliation is more than a day we wear an orange shirt. We need to carry it daily and continue to listen and understand to fully promote inclusivity and equality,” added Cullen.

Four speciality hockey sticks with “Every Child Matters” printed on them were donated to the Kerrobert event and were presented to the MVPs of each game played.

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