The Mi’kmaq flag will now fly permanently outside of Moncton’s city hall after the flag raising ceremony took place on National Indigenous People’s Day.
D.J. Joseph from Elsipogtog First Nation says the move on Friday will help make him and his people feel more included in the Moncton community.
“We have a hard time convincing people that we are a part of this community, in so far as we also have a hard time convincing ourselves at times that we are a part of this community, but this is a really big step towards collectively doing so,” he said.
Elsipogtog elder Peter Jadis says the day, and the flag raising, are important steps as the nation continues to re-establish its culture and pass it along to the next generation.
“The schooling that we went through back in the sixties and seventies, you know, it took a lot of our traditional ways from us and now it’s all coming back,” he said.
This year, celebrations in Saint John are aimed at honouring the late Gary Sappier, the former organizer who died suddenly in January.
His lifelong friend and current organizer, Hubert Francis, says he sees the day as a chance for Indigenous people to take control of how they are represented.
“What people usually know about Indian people here in Canada is what Hollywood depicts as an Indian,” he said.
“In schools they don’t really tell the true history of our people. I think it’s about time that we told our story.”
The Saint John event began with powow dancing from Victor and Bette-Jo Levi. They say sharing aspects of Indigenous culture is an effective way to help fight discrimination.
“This is why we go and we dance and we show everybody and we try to explain everything so they would understand instead of ridiculing our ways,” Victor Levi said.
“The more they understand, the more they’ll learn. Because if they don’t understand then people tend to push things away.”