On Nov. 16 a blue flag displaying a white infinity symbol flew from a flagpole at Salmon Arm’s city hall.
This was a sight particularly significant to members of the Salmon Arm Métis Association, who had received permission from the majority of city council to fly the flag on B.C.’s Louis Riel Day.
“We’re privileged to have your flag raised at city hall today. It’s our honour,” said Mayor Alan Harrison to members of the Métis association who gathered at city hall Monday morning. The pole is normally reserved for the Salmon Arm flag.
Neskonlith councillor and knowledge-keeper Louis Thomas was invited to speak first.
He spoke initially in his Secwépemc language.
“What I said was our blood flows through your blood. We have to learn to work together and make this a better place for all our kids. What you’re doing is an honour and I’d like to thank the mayor too for allowing you guys to raise the flag… We all have a lot of responsibilities. I really strongly believe in working together…,” Thomas said.
John Sayer, a Métis who serves as senator in Metis Nation BC on behalf of the Salmon Arm association, said he was glad to have the flag raised.
“When I first came to town we didn’t have an organization, our children were kind of left out of the picture. Our founding members started the local and it’s grown, we have quite a big group now.
He explained that the Metis people “are some of the original explorers that came from Europe and the native people that were here since time immemorial. So it’s an honour to be on Secwepemc territory and to me this is a good day to honour Louis Riel who some people seen as a criminal, but he was a hero to a lot of us.”
David Allard, president of the Salmon Arm Metis Association, thanked everyone involved and spoke to Louis Riel’s significance.
“Louis Riel was a Métis leader who was instrumental in the birth of our nation. His ideals of equality, justice and the concept of full participation in collective decision-making are as important today as they were 135 years ago, the day he was wrongfully executed. In these trying times, I urge all to reach out and build bridges so we can come together in the spirit of Louis Riel.”
Following the flag raising, Marlene Dufresne, one of the early members of the association, said forming the group has finally paid off.
“It’s great to see how many people now who are Metis. “It’s come a long ways; I’m proud of it.”