Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada

Mi’kmaq flag permanently installed on StFX campus

September 7th, 2017
Pictured are Tamara Cremo, Paqtnkek Chief PJ Prosper, StFX President Dr. Kent MacDonald, Grand Chief Ben Sylliboy, and Pictou Landing Chief Andrea Paul

With the sound of drum beats and the scent of sage still in the air, a standing-room only crowd watched as the Mi'kmaq flag was proudly unfurled on Sept. 7 to fly permanently on the StFX campus.

A packed crowd filled Dennis Hall for the historic ceremony, moved inside due to inclement weather. The flag will fly permanently outside the President’s office at Morrison Hall.

“It is an honour to be here for the raising of the flag,” Grand Chief Ben Sylliboy said in remarks as he thanked everyone for coming to share in this moment of togetherness, an important ceremony that brought together members of the Mi’kmaq nation and the StFX community.

The ceremony was also highlighted by several announcements of major initiatives designed to enhance student learning.

“I’m really honoured to be here, it is a long time coming. This is a start of reconciliation,” Grand Captain Andrew Denny said as he thanked StFX for raising the Grand Council flag on a permanent basis. It solidifies and cements the fact that Mi’kmaq are welcome here, he said.

Chief PJ Prosper of Paqtnkek First Nation, who is also a member of the StFX Board of Governors, said the ceremony symbolizes the commitment between the two, and the interest in sharing the rich stories and cultural traditions of the Mi’kmaq people who have been here for generations upon generations.

Chief Prosper also acknowledged the leadership of StFX President Dr. Kent MacDonald, who he said reached out to the Mi’kmaq nation soon after his installation in office.  

“It’s certainly a distinct honour for me to be part of this historic event,” Chief Prosper said.  

“This is an important day for us,” Dr. MacDonald said as he talked about the journey StFX is on, and that "we still have a lot to learn."

Dr. MacDonald thanked all those who have carried the flag in this regard, particularly members of the StFX education faculty, and thanked everyone “for having patience with us.

“I look forward to the future, not just a symbol, an important symbol, but how do we start to imbed this in the learning. The good news is we already have people doing this,” he said.  

StFX Aboriginal Student Advisor Terena Francis made several announcements during the ceremony including the news of a partnership with StFX, through the Jeannine Deveau Educational Equity Endowment Fund, to help establish an Elders-in-Residence program.

She also noted the appointment of Dorene Bernard as 2017 Coady Chair in Social Justice. Ms. Bernard performed a traditional smudging ceremony to start the ceremony.

Her third announcement again brought applause as she shared the news of the establishment of the five-year, $300,000 John Jerome Paul Chair for Equity in Mathematics Education. This research chair is created through the Deveau Fund and will be held by StFX education professor Dr. Lisa Lunney Borden.

Dr. Lunney Borden’s work will focus on teaching and math achievement for First Nations and African Nova Scotia students.

Mr. Paul, director of program services with Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey, who the chair is named after, said he has always been determined to see that Mi’kmaq youth gain skills in math and science to give them opportunity in the world. He said it is special to have Dr. Lunney Borden, who taught in Mi’kmaq communities for 15 years, be part of this project. He also noted he is humbled to be asked to have his name associated with this math equity chair as he knows the StFX education faculty will work diligently to support it.

Mr. Paul spoke of a partnership developed with StFX about 20 years ago to support the development of Mi’kmaq teachers for their communities. “We had great hopes when we started, but we had no idea, 20 years in, we would be standing here looking at such a great set of accomplishments,” he said to much applause.  

The flag raising ceremony ended with drumming and the singing of the Mi’kmaq Honour Song. 

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