Members from Bonnyville town council, Kehewin Cree Nation council, Frog Lake Cree Nation council, M.D. council, RCMP, St. Paul Mayor Maureen Miller, MLA David Hanson underneath the raised Treaty Six flag at Town Hall on Friday.
Bonnyville is working to make better partnerships with their Indigenous neighbours.
The Treaty Six flag was raised at the Bonnyville town office Friday with members of Kehewin council and Frog Lake council attending and speaking at the event.
It marked a historic occasion for the town, building on the growing relationship between Bonnyville and Kehewin.
The flag raising marked a week of celebration for Kehewin as they held Treaty Week and the Canadian Indian Relay Racing Association season opener at the Bonnyville Rodeo Grounds.
Kehewin Chief Vernon Watchmaker said Kehewin is just a stone’s throw away from Bonnyville and there is a lot of history between the people of Kehewin and Bonnyville.
“I think it was a few months that we started this collaborative talks and discussions. It all started with discussion and now it has blossomed to what we see here today. There are many more good things coming our way as well working together,” said Watchmaker.
“Seeing the Treaty Six flag raised here, there’s a long history there. I think everybody should take the time to try and understand that relationship because there is a story behind it, and once you understand it, the ignorance that might be there will be addressed.”
One of the signatories of Treaty Six in Fort Pitt in 1976 was Chief Kehewin, so the importance of the treaty has not been lost in almost 150 years.
Mayor Gene Sobolewski said: “We’re respecting the fact that we’re on Treaty six in terms of the traditional uses. We have to recognize that because moving forward we are forming a lot of collaborations with our neighbours.
“We are going to be hanging the Treaty Six flag in our council chambers, such that in our deliberations moving forward that we always consider and recognize that we’re also on the Treaty Six lands. Because that is important to us in terms of moving forward,” said Sobolewski.
Newly elected Frog Lake Chief Greg Desjarlais said: “We look at the signing of the treaty and looking at today and the flag flying, it means a lot to the First Nations people that Bonnyville took that step to recognize the importance of our people. It means a lot to us in our heart.”
MLA Bonnyville-Cold Lake-St. Paul David Hanson spoke about how he also represents Saddle Lake, Kehewin, Frog Lake, Cold Lake First Nations, Elizabeth Metis Settlement and Fishing Lake Metis Settlement.
“Those are all communities I represent and I really appreciate everybody coming together because I think in order for us to move forward as an area, it’s very important we all work together. This is the first step toward that and I look forward to many more events like this in the future,” said Hanson.
Kehewin is continuing to work on reconciliation events such as holding Healing Rides for the next three years, like the one from Kehewin to St. Paul last summer, said councillor Ben Badger.
Irvin Kehewin also spoke at the event about the history of Treaty Six.