It was a moment of hope. A moment of reflection. And a moment of reconciliation yesterday morning as a host of dignitaries and assembled onlookers watched two new flags rise to fly over Swift Current's Flag Court.
Greeted by a small sea of orange shirts in solidarity with the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation this upcoming Thursday, a small group of assembled community leaders from the southwest took their turn speaking to the troubled past and sometimes tumultuous present between First Nations and non-First Nations people.
Yesterday's raising of the flags of both Treaty 4 and of the Metis Nation as permanent additions to the Flag Court is not meant to solve all of those issues. But as multiple speakers alluded to, a first meaningful step can lead to another and then another until suddenly one finds themselves far from where they started.
Mary Culbertson is Treaty Commissioner with the Office of the Treaty Commissioner.
"To learn about that shared history because it's not a nice history. But we can make our history going forward a good history when we learn about each other. When we talk with each other. And when we want better lives for everybody."
Culbertson was joined at the speaker's podium by Chief Alvin Francis of the Nekaneet First Nation; Wendy Gervais, Regional Director of Metis Nation Western Region 3; Mayor Al Bridal; and Everett Hindley, MLA for Swift Current and Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, Seniors, Rural and Remote Health.
Each spoke of the flag-raising and its meaning from their own unique experience, both within, and outside of, the residential school experience.
Chief Alvin Francis, whose adopted father and former Chief of Nekaneet First Nation, the late Gordon Oaks designed the Treaty 4 flag, spoke of the imperative of all parties moving in the same direction.
"We must work together. We don't have a choice in the matter. Because I always like to say this...you're not going anywhere, and I'm not going anywhere. So let's walk hand in hand. Let's make this a better world for all. Let's make an understanding that we can actually talk to each other."
Much of the theme of the morning turned to the youth of all nations who share the land; of those generations yet to come and the hope of making it a better world for them.
Mayor Al Bridal spoke not only as a representative for the city of Swift Current but also nodding briefly to his own generation as he spoke directly to assembled youth from Central School in the city.
"Like has been mentioned earlier today, it's vitally important that we include you in this Truth and Reconciliation; as it will be you that is asked to carry this torch into the future. And make sure you do. Better than my generation. Because this has been 64 years coming from my generation."