Grenfell Campus further demonstrated a commitment to respecting and honouring Indigenous culture and heritage.
Dr. Vianne Timmons, OC, president and vice-chancellor, Memorial University, Dr. Jeff Keshen, vice-president (Grenfell Campus) and students Kaylee Sullivan and Brittney Pittman, raised the Grand Council Flag of the Mi'kmaq Nation with Dr. Mi'sel Joe, Chief of Miawpukek First Nation, and Brendan Mitchell, chief of Qalipu First Nation, on Friday.
The flag will fly next to the Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Memorial University flags.
“Today’s flag raising represents an important milestone in the recognition of the Mi’kmaq people of Newfoundland and the Mi’kmaq Grand Council,” said Chief Mitchell. “For Qalipu First Nation, the flying of the Mi’kmaq Grand Council flag is another example of reconciliation in action as we move forward in the spirit of mutual respect and positive change. We are grateful and appreciative of the support shown by Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador and Grenfell Campus in recognizing the rich culture, history and presence of all Mi’kmaq.”
As the province’s only university we have an obligation, not just to raise our own awareness but to educate and share our knowledge with others, said Dr. Timmons as she told the story her own Indigenous heritage and of its personal significance to her.
This flag signifies a commitment to collaboration and mutual respect.
“This is more than a flag,” said Chief Joe. “This is the reminder of who we are and where we came from. We need to educate ourselves and we need to educate those around us. This is an incredible first start and we want to work together to those who want to listen and work with us. I started this incredible journey many years ago and this is an important milestone."
“We are here to celebrate and honor the permanent flying of the Mi'kmaq flag here a,” said Sullivan, a Grenfell historical studies student. "I know from my own personal experience, being a Mi'kmaq woman is something I take great pride in. It truly is a momentous occasion not only for current Grenfell students but past alumni as well, and of course, the students of the future but also for the city of Corner Brook because it shows that Mi'kmaq people live here and that we are alive and proud of our culture.”
The Honourable Andrew Furey, premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, who meets regularly with the province’s Indigenous leaders, noted this initiative's role in recognizing the Mi’kmaq people of this province and toward reconciliation.
“We work together on many Indigenous issues- always listening and working to get a better understanding. It's about education for all of us and how we can better work toward reconciliation. We come with an open mind and open heart and we realize the steps we take together won’t always be easy and at times we will be faced with difficult decisions. We need to make them and raising the flag today is an important step forward.”
Also part of the event was the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Grenfell Campus and Qalipu First Nation that will help to align priorities identified in Memorial's Strategic Framework for Indigenization.
“The MOU is a commitment to collaborate on initiatives that further the cultural, economic and environmental goals of Qalipu through joint initiatives in research, experiential learning and public engagement," said Dr. Keshen. "These initiatives will bring the resources of Qalipu and Grenfell together in a spirit of mutual respect, mutual contributions and mutual benefit. Some specific elements include greater opportunities for engaged learning and research.”
To view the event, please visit Grenfell Campus's Facebook page.
Caption: Students Kaylee Sullivan and Brittney Pittman participated in the flag raising ceremony.