Grenfell Campus is working toward Indigenization priorities with the commitment to fly Grand Council Flag of the Mi'kmaq Nation permanently on campus.
Dr. Vianne Timmons, OC, president and vice-chancellor, Memorial University, and Dr. Jeff Keshen, vice-president (Grenfell Campus), were presented a Grand Council Flag of the Mi'kmaq Nation by Chief Dr. Mi'sel Joe, Chief of Miawpukek First Nation, and Chief Brendan Mitchell, chief of Qalipu First Nation, on Saturday.
In a ceremony to take place in the spring, the flag will be raised where it will fly at Grenfell Campus permanently. The flag will fly next to the Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Memorial University flags.
The Grand Council Flag, which signifies alliances between people in Mi'kmaq territory, features a cross which represents mankind, white to represent the purity of creation, the sun to represent the forces of the day and the moon to represent forces of the night.
In addition, Grenfell Campus proudly flies the flags of many of the province's Indigenous groups in the Arts and Science atrium, along with flags representing students' countries of origin.
"I thank Chief Dr. Mi'sel Joe, Chief Brendan Mitchell and the Mi'kmaq Grand Council for presenting us this gift," said Dr. Timmons. "The lands that we study on, benefit from and where Memorial's campuses are located have been occupied, managed and governed since time immemorial by Indigenous Peoples. As president I recognize the importance of having this flag on display at Grenfell; as a person of Mi'kmaw descent, I'll be thrilled to see it flying."
Reconciliation in Canada takes many forms, said Chief Mitchell.
"Several months ago, Qalipu First Nation made a request to Dr. Timmons to have the Mi'kmaq Grand Council Flag flown permanently at Grenfell Campus," said Chief Mitchell.
"On behalf of our Nation, I am pleased to see that we are taking an important step today in presenting the flag to be flown at Grenfell campus, on the traditional territory of the Qalipu First Nation. I thank President Timmons and Vice-President Keshen for acknowledging the Mi'kmaq Nation in Newfoundland. Today, we mark an important step toward our own reconciliation, with the Grand Council flag being proudly displayed in recognition of the First Peoples of this province. I also wish to thank the Mi'kmaq Grand Council for its support in this significant milestone."
An opportunity to teach
The flying of the Grand Council flag, a flag that has been flown since the nineteenth century, is a sign and symbol of opportunity to teach others about the Grand Council, said Chief Joe.
"I hope people see this as a school book, not just a piece of fabric, that will teach us about hundreds of years of the history of our people," said Chief Joe. "Mi'kmaq people have an obligation to educate people. The more we know, the more we can learn. We can look to this flag and how our history is being taught in schools and universities as has been identified as an important part of Truth and Reconciliation."
There are more than 300 Indigenous (having First Nations, Inuit, or Métis ancestry) currently enrolled Grenfell Campus.
"We value our role as leaders in creating opportunity for Indigenous populations, and we recognize we have much to learn as we work toward Indigenization," said Dr. Keshen. "The raising of the Grand Council Flag is an ongoing territorial acknowledgement that Grenfell Campus is situated on Mi'kmaw territory. This is a significant step towards building a campus that celebrates the ancestry and cultures of our Indigenous students."
To view the event, click here.