Flag raising recognizes role of Aboriginals in Canadian military

News Article / June 21, 2017

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June 21 is National Aboriginal Day. This is a day for all Canadians to recognize and celebrate the unique heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. The Canadian Constitution recognizes these three groups as Aboriginal Peoples, also known as Indigenous Peoples.

By Sara Keddy

For the first time, 14 Wing Greenwood, Nova Scotia, hoisted the Mi’kmaq Grand Council flag at the entrance to the base.

At the May 24 event, marking the start of Aboriginal Awareness Week, May 23 to 26, Corporal Tim Wall and Master Seaman Scott Carson led a traditional smudge ceremony, wafting the smoke from smouldering sage over participants and the flag with an eagle feather.

“The smoke goes in your eyes so you can see better, your mind so you are always thinking good thoughts, your hearts to make sure you’re always loving and caring, and the rest of your body so you’re physically okay,” said Corporal Wall. “It’s a cleansing ceremony.”

The red and white flag, with its distinctive striped cross, star and moon symbols, represents the Mi’kma’ki people from traditional lands in the Atlantic Provinces, Eastern Quebec and the Eastern United States. The white signifies purity; the red cross, the four directions; and the star and the moon, the spirits of day and night.

With an offering of tobacco for the Creator, and the grandmothers and grandfathers of the past, placed at the base of the flagpole, the flag raising represented the growing recognition by the Canadian Armed Forces of the contributions of Aboriginal members within its ranks

“I would highly recommend people here this morning get out and talk with their units and find out about the Aboriginal cultures of the people in your units,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Marie-Claude Osmond, acting wing commander. “There is good information in the Canadian Armed Forces now, and flying this flag at 14 Wing supports and recognizes our people.”

Just the week before, a group of 20 potential Aboriginal CAF recruits toured the wing to find out about opportunities within the military. Lieutenant-Colonel Sean Duggan, the 14 Wing employment equity champion for Aboriginals, acknowledged the wing’s physical presence on the traditional land of the Wabanaki and Mi’kma’ki and thanked everyone for attending the flag raising. “Indigenous people have a rich history within the Canadian Armed Forces, he said, “and by coming together to celebrate events like this, we demonstrate we value that culture and diversity.”

Sara Keddy is with 14 Wing Greenwood Public Affairs.

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