Petition to permanently install Mi'kmaq flag on campus unsuccessful
In October of 2014, StFX raised the Mi’kmaq flag for the very first time in honour of Mi’kmaq History Month. Without an official flagpole on campus, the Mi’kmaq flag was raised alongside the Canadian and Nova Scotia flags outside the north entrance of Morrison Hall, and the university committed to do the same again this year throughout the month of October.
After the flag was raised on September 30, a group of indigenous students launched a petition on change.org urging the university to keep the Mi’kmaq flag flying year round, recognizing that StFX is located on unceded Mi’kmaq territory.
“The strategic plans indicate that this university is committed to greater representation of the Mi’kmaq community,” the petition reads. “Flying the Mi’kmaq flag is important because throughout history indigenous people have not been recognized in formal settings as an intricate part of the fabric of Canada. Having the flag up year round allows us, both as indigenous and non-indigenous peoples, to recognize that we are treaty partners and through this, we are actively taking a step forward towards reconciliation.”
Tamara Cremo, one of the students who started the petition, provided her perspective as an Aboriginal student at StFX in an article submitted to The Xaverian Weekly in mid-October.
Cremo’s article speaks to the history of the Mi’kmaq flag, also known as Sante’ Mawiomi, which represents the Mi’kmaq people in the territory and recognizes the alliances and meaning of the Grand Council. She also shares her own personal connection to the Mi’kmaq flag as a member of the We’komaq First Nation community where it is permanently installed.
“When I see the flag I see the importance of reclaiming my language and culture,” Cremo says. “It shows me my history, the history of the Mi’kmaq Grand Council and recognizes our relationships with the Catholic Church and the Government. The Mi’kmaq flag on campus gives me a sense of hope that my future generations will feel that they can come to school, feel accepted, and know that their opinions matter.”
The petition, which garnered support from StFX students and faculty, local community members, and individuals across the country, was presented to President Dr. Kent MacDonald last week.
According to Cremo, Dr. MacDonald’s initial comments indicated that while the university would like to keep the flag raised throughout the year, they might not have a place for it until the Mulroney Institute is constructed.
“StFX does not have an official flag policy nor does it have an official flag pole(s) other than three on top of Nicholson Tower which are quite difficult to access,” says Dr. MacDonald. “Going forward the university is developing a policy regarding flags on campus. This policy will clarify when flags are raised/lowered, when they fly at half-mast, what flags are most appropriate to fly (and when) et cetera. Further, we will seek advice regarding a more accessible and more visible location for an official flag pole(s) on campus.”
MacDonald thanked several of the signatories for their advice and will be passing the data along to the parties responsible for developing the policy. Once drafted, the official flag policy will by presented to StFX’s Policy Oversight Committee and to President’s Council for approval.
He adds that going forward, the conversation will be inclusive of many voices and will take place in keeping with the university’s response to the TRC calls to action.
“I expect to receive thoughtful advice in many aspects of our post TRC response including perhaps advice regarding the beautiful Mi’kmaq flag,” MacDonald says.
As of Tuesday, November 1, the Mi’kmaq flag was no longer flying outside of Morrison Hall.
“I hope one day to see the Mi’kmaq flag flying next to the Canadian flag,” shares Cremo. “Because we need to recognize that we are all treaty people and that we need to continue listening and learning from each other.”
Those interested in signing the petition can find it online at www.change.org/p/stfx-administration-keep-the-mi-kmaq-flag-raised-year-round-at-stfx.