Flags raised to honour history of area First Nations

The Indigenous flag plaza at Sarnia's Bayshore Park (Butterfly Garden). 22 June 2021. (BlackburnNews.com file photo)

A plaque and a garden will soon accompany three flags on display at a new Indigenous Community Flag Plaza in Sarnia.

The United Nations Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) Committee unveiled the plaza on June 21, National Indigenous People’s Day. UNDRIP said the flags from Aamjiwnaang, Kettle and Stony Point, and Walpole Island First Nations represent the signatories to the Huron Tract Treaty.

The permanent installation is located in the south area of Bayshore Park, formerly known as “Butterfly Garden”.

“Having the flag court along the waterfront is incredibly important for our community because it gives us a space that we can very easily recognize that honours our history in this treaty land and starts to show proper respect and honour to those who came before us,” said Councillor Brian White.

Surrounding the flags is a Medicine Wheel, which symbolizes the different cycles of life.

“Soon there will be an interpretive plaque there that helps tell the story of our Anishnawbek history here and will allow other people to gather around a beautiful garden and possibly find some serenity and peace as they reflect on our history,” he said.

White said the flag plaza is one step council is willing to take toward reconciliation and inclusion.

“It’s really important that today’s actions aren’t the last actions that we take. It starts with a conversation and it’s simply a matter of timing that brought us to this point,” he said. “The next step toward reconciliation or making Sarnia more inclusive for our Indigenous friends and siblings will be following shortly.”

White said ideally there would have been a ceremony on Monday, however, due to COVID-19 restrictions, plans have been pushed to September 30, on Orange Shirt Day.