Skip to content

Innisfail council approves flying the Métis flag

Council also directs administration to create a flag policy

INNISFAIL — The town is flying the Métis flag — the oldest national patriotic flag indigenous to Canada — outside the administration building.

The request came through a letter from the Métis Nation of Alberta, and council, which approved a similar community request last June to fly the Pride flag outside of the administration building, discussed the issue at its Agenda & Priorities meeting on Nov. 1.

In his letter to the town, Joe Chodzicki, president of Métis Local 492, asked council to help his citizens remember on Nov. 11 the many Métis who gave their lives “fighting beside so many others to make Canada a strong and free country” and also to help spread awareness of the Métis culture and heritage during Métis Week, which is being celebrated from Nov. 15 to Nov. 21.

“We are asking that you help us honour our Métis people and raise our flag during these times,” wrote Chodzicki.

He pointed out the Métis flag is the oldest Canadian patriotic flag indigenous to Canada, pre-dating the Canadian flag by more than 150 years, and was first used in 1815, after being presented by Alexander MacDonnell, of the North West Company.

“The flag symbolizes the creation of a new society, and the infinity symbol suggests that Métis people will exist forever,” said Chodzicki, adding there would be no cost for the town and that his nation would “gladly” provide Innisfail with a Métis flag. “All we ask from you is that you show your support to our people, our culture, and our heritage by hanging our flag high among the others.”

Todd Becker, the town’s chief administrative officer, noted council’s past approval of raising the Pride flag for last summer’s successful Innisfail Pride Day on June 26. He said the request by the Métis Nation of Alberta “tied in” with that initiative.

“We could certainly do that with council’s acknowledgement and likely replace the town flag. If you are supportive of that we’d certainly make that happen,” said Becker.

Coun. Dale Dunham then introduced a motion to fly the Métis flag outside the administration building from Nov. 15 to 21. It was passed unanimously. Since then, the Métis Nation of Alberta has donated a Metis flag to the town, which is now flying outside the administration building.

Council then discussed whether creating a flag policy for the town would be beneficial in light of recent requests and initiatives, which also included the lowering of flags in front of the administration building this year as a memorial and symbol of respect for the forgotten Indigenous children whose undocumented graves were found on the grounds of residential schools.

“Some of this is governed by protocols, like when flags are lowered, but we may have other groups who would like to fly a flag and I think it would be wise to have a policy in place that would give us some kind of a framework to make those decisions,” said Mayor Jean Barclay following the Nov. 1 meeting.

“And that’s whether that decision is left to administration or if that decision comes to council. I guess we will see how that evolves but there may be more requests going forward for sure.”

Coun. Don Harrison introduced on Nov. 1 a motion directing administration to look at information around a policy and report back to council for further review.

“As the groups start to come up, we need some kind of direction I believe for administration to say yea or nay. We started with the Pride and now with the Métis,” said Harrison. “This thing could start to get quite a bit bigger. It would just help administration when approached.”

Becker countered it would be beneficial to have clarity.

“I know this request and the Pride flag request was pretty easy but there are some grey areas, like what do we do with that flag (request)? Do we acknowledge that or not?’’’ said Becker. “It would be an easy policy, I would think, but a little direction would be nice.”

Harrison’s motion was passed unanimously. Becker said a draft new flag policy could be presented to council in early 2022.

Johnnie Bachusky

About the Author: Johnnie Bachusky

Read more