For the first time in their history, the Willow Lake Métis Nation are raising multiple flags in Anzac.
Around 100 individuals attended a ceremony on Wednesday at Gazebo Park where the first of two flags was raised next to the RMWB’s, Alberta’s, and Canada’s.
The second was raised at the Anzac Fire Hall.
Speaking to reporters, Willow Lake VP and CEO Justin Bourque says this is now physical proof we’re on Treaty 8 and unceded Métis territory.
“We do land acknowledgements and say the words but this is actually showing those words… you can look around and see you are on that.”
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This was possible after Wood Buffalo council updated the region’s flag policy last month.
It was created 34 years ago and didn’t allow for any Indigenous flags to be flown on municipal poles.
“The flag policy did not include Treaty 8, Métis, and Indigenous communities and that is why the policy needed to be changed,” added Jane Stroud, Councillor for Ward 4.
The hope is this historic moment will encourage other communities to fly their own flags.
The day was extra special for the Willow Lake Métis Nation as they handed out citizenship cards to over 60 of their members.
Last year, the community announced they would be separating from the Métis Nation of Alberta to allow them to govern themselves.
Elder Clara Elmira Bourque was the first to get their card, receiving it from her grandson Justin Bourque.
He notes it was the proudest moment of his career as he got to celebrate a monumental moment for his Nation with his grandmother.
“You don’t need an ID card to know who you are as an Indigenous person, we’ve never needed that recognition, we’ve always known – but this gives us that place of belonging and identity so that we as a self-govern Métis Nation can conduct ourselves government to government.”
Bourque adds they are currently working with the government of Alberta to ensure these cards can be used as legal ID’s.
He’s hoping to have one available for all their members in the very near future.