Flag ceremony
Riley Brandt photos, University of Calgary

Oct. 10, 2023

Flag-lowering ceremony honours truth and reconciliation at UCalgary

Indigenous Elders and university community unite to mark National Day for Truth and Reconciliation with meaningful programming

Elders, community members and University of Calgary leaders came together Sept. 29 to mark the third annual National Day for Truth and Reconciliation with a flag-lowering ceremony on main campus.

Also known as Orange Shirt Day, Sept. 30 has been a federal observance since 2021 and serves as a time to reflect upon the impact and legacy of Canada’s Indian Residential School System and honour its many victims and survivors. As Sept. 30 fell on a Saturday this year, UCalgary offered a day of learning for the community on the Friday as part of the university’s role in reconciliation through education.

  • Photo above: From left: Elder Doreen Bergum carries the Métis flag, Elder Diane Meguinis carries the Tsuut'ina flag, Elder Clarence Wolfleg carries the Blackfoot Confederacy flag, Cato Hunter carries the Stoney Nakoda flag, followed by Piikani Elders Reg and Rose Crowshoe. 

In the spirit of truth and reconciliation, UCalgary’s Office of Indigenous Engagement united the ii’ taa’poh’to’p Elders Circle of Advisers and the university’s senior leadership in a flag-lowering ceremony that concluded with the raising of the Every Child Matters flag. The powerful display of solidarity was hosted by Dr. Shawna Cunningham, EdD, acting vice-provost (Indigenous engagement).

The morning event featured speakers including UCalgary President Ed McCauley, Provost Penny Wethner, Chancellor Jon Cornish, and Elder Reg Crowshoe, Hon. LLD’01, a prominent spiritual leader from Piikani First Nation and cultural adviser to the Office of Indigenous Engagement. Honour songs were performed by the drum group, Eya-Hey Nakoda, led by Elder Rod Hunter.

Flag ceremony

Riley Brandt

Following the ceremony, an afternoon presentation and evening film screening were hosted by the Office of Indigenous Engagement in partnership with Calgary Public Library (CPL).

The afternoon presentation entitled What We Inherited and Better Understanding Our Role in Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action, was conducted by Cadmus Delorme, a Cree and Saulteaux and former chief of the Cowessess First Nation.

The evening screening and discussion of the film Beans, directed by Tracey Deer, was hosted at Central Library. Both events were livestreamed and featured remarks from Cunningham and CPL CEO Sarah Meilleur, BA’01.

As guided by the university’s Indigenous Strategy, ii’ taa’poh’to’p, creates space for meaningful discussions and champions Indigenous world views is a priority for UCalgary. Orange Shirt Day ceremonies and discussions provide students, faculty, staff and community members with the opportunity to listen, learn and reflect on topics such as the impact of colonization and intergenerational trauma. Engaging in these learning opportunities is a next step toward reconciliation through education.

Through ii’ taa’poh’to’p, UCalgary has committed to walk a parallel path with Indigenous Peoples. This commitment was affirmed by McCauley, who said, “In keeping with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s call for educational institutions to take leadership roles in reconciliation, the University of Calgary is deeply committed to accepting responsibility for truth and reconciliation.”

The acknowledgement of truth increases awareness of our shared colonial past. Commemorating the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation helps the UCalgary community move one step closer to meaningful reconciliation.