The Horizon School Division hosted its annual National Indigenous Peoples Day and flag-raising ceremony on June 21 at the Horizon School Division office courtyard. 

The event began with a pipe ceremony, led by Elder Bryan McNabb Sr. and Knowledge Keeper George GreyBuffalo, followed by O Canada, sung in Cree by the students of George Gordon Education Center. 

Afterwards, flags were raised as the Honour Song and Flag Song was sung by Grey Buffalo Singers. 

Kevin Garinger, Director of Education for the Horizon School Division, took to the podium shortly after the flag-raising, stating the importance of Truth and Reconciliation and National Indigenous Peoples Day.

“Our generation, and the generations that will follow, have a responsibility to repair the damage caused during the darkest chapters in our country’s history. It is our responsibility and privilege to learn and understand the truth so that we may work toward Reconciliation.”

Garinger stated there is still a lot of work to be done. 

“Our work will continue today, tomorrow and into the future. As nations, as leaders, as educators, as communities, we can only achieve these critical actions through strong relationships, through collaboration, and through understanding.” 

Chief Byron Bitternose spoke next, reinforcing the need for understanding. 

“Unfortunately residential schools created a culture of First Nations people being told what they need, rather than asking how we can help. We know our students struggle, but we also know our families struggle. Our problems on a reserve differ from those living off a reserve. We need to work together collaboratively, and respect one another.”

Mayor Micheal Behiel agreed, stating the need for a strong relationship is necessary. 

“I am pleased to announce that commencing next year, the City of Humboldt will be working with Indigenous leaders to present a full cultural day each year on National Indigenous Peoples Day, so that all our citizens may embrace this culture and gain an understanding of what Reconciliation truly means.”

Many speakers stepped up to reflect on how important National Indigenous Peoples Day is, and how Truth and Reconciliation will help with moving into the future. Speakers included Member of the Legislative Assembly for Saskatoon Centre Betty Nippi-Albright, Jim Hack, Chair for the Horizon School Division Board of Education, and Dr. Angelina Weenie, the Indigenous Education Program Coordinator for the First Nations University of Canada. 

While the rain shortened the ceremony, people still gathered to celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day.