Celebration and flag raising mark Cree program’s 10th anniversary
- EFN Staff | June 20, 2016
The 10th anniversary of the Nêhiyâwiwin Cree Language and Culture program at Confederation Park Community School was marked with a special celebration and the raising of the Treaty 6 flag.
The celebration, held just days before National Aboriginal Day, included dancing and a demonstration of new regalia. Students, staff, families, partners and program supporters were on hand to honour the 10th anniversary and proudly raise the Treaty 6 flag which will be a permanent fixture at the school.
Pete Chief is the Vice Principal at Confederation Park School and he sees the raising of the flag as one more step in making the school a welcoming place for young people to learn their language.
“My grandmother always told me to never lose my language and that the day you lose your language is the day you are lost,” said Chief. “I never really understood what she meant by that until I left the reserve where I spoke the language all the time and came to the city for school. Everything we have is connected to our language. So it means so much to have these kids speak Cree to me at this school in the hallways and in the classroom.”
The Nêhiyâwiwin Cree Language and Culture program is a bilingual/bicultural program that is offered for Pre-Kindergarten to Grade 5 students at Confederation Park. The program, which began in the fall of 2005, is a joint project of the Okicīyapi Partnership involving Saskatoon Tribal Council, Central Urban Métis Federation Inc. and Saskatoon Public Schools. Students from across Saskatoon can attend the program, for which free busing is provided.
Several dignitaries were on hand for the celebration of culture and the flag raising. After several dance performances, drummers and elders and dignitaries gathered around the flag pole for the ceremony. The flag was gifted to the school by the Mistawasis First Nation and Chief Darryl Watson was on hand to offer the flag. He also wore the Treaty Medal his Chief received at the signing of Treaty in 1876. Veteran Phillip Ledoux, also of the Mistawasis First Nation officially raised the Treaty 6 flag.
“Back when I started with the division, there was only a handful of Cree speaking teachers and now we have at least twelve in this school alone. And for us to raise the Treaty 6 flag acknowledges that relationship and this place where we are teaching the culture, history and language of our people,” said Chief. “To have this flag here in front of our school just seems fitting.”