2018-10-24

Mi’kmaw flag permanency in Lunenburg still up in the air

by Keith Corcoran

  • <p>KEITH CORCORAN, PHOTO</p><p>Nova Scotia Mi&#8217;kmaw artist Melissa Labrador speaks to a meeting of civic politicians earlier this month in Lunenburg. Labrador offered a prayer in Mi&#8217;kmaq and performed a song using a traditional drum. October is Mi&#8217;kmaw history month in the province.</p>

A flag went up in Lunenburg marking Mi'kmaw history month, but a decision about flying the banner permanently is still up in the air.

"We will worry about details of permanency and where a permanent location for the flag should be in further discussions on the topic," the town's mayor, Rachel Bailey, told LighthouseNOW during a break in a recent council meeting, which heard from Nova Scotia Mi'kmaw artist Melissa Labrador in recognition of Mi'kmaw history month in the province.

While the long-term aspect of subject is sidelined, Bailey points out it's important to fly the flag and make the statement of respect and recognition. We have a lot to learn from the Mi'kmaw people, she said, and it's important they get proper acknowledgement as a significant part of society's past and future.

In calling the council meeting to order, Bailey declared the town is part of traditional Mi'kmaq territory.

Labrador told the council meeting that's she's a descendent of the last Mi'kmaw inhabitant of Lunenburg before it became a British settlement in 1753. She also offered a prayer in Mi'kmaw and then performed part a song using a traditional drum.

Last winter, Pat Garrison, a representative of the Mi'kmaw Heritage and Restoration Association, asked the town about permanently installing the Mi'Kmaw flag at the town's UNESCO monument site near Cumberland Street. Garrison believed the flag should have a constant presence alongside other honour flags given the history of the indigenous people.

In response, the town, while understanding the rationale, wanted guidance as to where its rightful place could be.

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