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New flags honour past and present

May 14, 2019 Mark Milne, ATA News Staff
The Treaty 6 flag is one of several now displayed in PEC chambers at Barnett House in honour of Alberta’s history.

As a professional association, it’s important for us to have that symbol in a public environment, whether it’s in the auditorium or in the PEC chambers.

– Brian Andrais, ATA associate executive secretary

Three new flags are now displayed alongside the Canadian and Albertan flags in the Provincial Executive Council (PEC) chambers. The Treaty 6 flag, Métis flag and Franco-

Alberta flag have added their colours and culture to the room.

“This is long overdue. I support what the flags represent. As a professional association, it’s important for us to have that symbol in a public environment, whether it’s in the auditorium or in the PEC chambers,” said Brian Andrais, associate executive secretary of the Alberta Teachers’ Association.

Indigenous flags

The Treaty 6 and Métis flags were presented at last year’s ARA by two Indigenous executive members of Edmonton Public Schools Local No. 37. Local president Heather Quinn said the presentation was the result of conversations within the local as to why the ATA only flies the Canadian standard outside Barnett House.

“We thought that we could gift those flags to the Association in the hopes that they could be put in PEC chambers in the spirit of honouring the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendations,” Quinn said.

When Treaty 6 was affirmed between First Nations and the Crown in 1876, each of the chiefs who signed the agreement were given a medallion and a Union Jack flag. These two symbols, along with the affirmation year, compose the flag.

The Métis flag consists of a white infinity sign on a blue field. The infinity symbol represents the faith that the Métis culture will live on forever. It can also be interpreted as two conjoined circles that signify the joining of the European (mainly French) and the First Nations cultures. The local rounded out its presentation to the Association with a Canadian and an Albertan flag.

Franco-Alberta flag

The addition of the Indigenous flags to the PEC chambers inspired another cultural group to follow suit.

“When we saw the Métis flag and the Treaty 6 flag over there, we really thought the Franco-Alberta flag should be there as well,” said Eric Cloutier, president of L’Unite Local No. 24.

Created in 1982 and officially recognized in 2017, the Franco-

Alberta flag consists of a fleur-de-lys in the upper left corner, which represents French Quebec, and the wild rose in the bottom right corner, to represent Alberta. They are separated by bands of white and blue to symbolize the provincial waters and roads travelled by Francophone colonists and explorers.

Cloutier presented the flag to PEC in December, and a unanimous vote was held to add it to the chambers. Cloutier says the ATA has really embraced francophone teachers over the past few years.

“We have more and more services in French without having to ask for them,” says Cloutier, “To have the flag there is a symbol that we are part of the Association. This was important for us. I was proud to do it.” ❚

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