Red River College Polytechnic (RRC Polytech) raised the three flags in an act of unity, pride and inclusivity to mark the beginning of National Indigenous History Month and Pride Month. The Treaty One flag, Red River Métis flag and RRC Polytech’s new Pride flag will now fly year-round at the Notre Dame Campus in Winnipeg to acknowledge the history of the land, respect for the treaties made on the land, and representation of the people who live here.
“RRC Polytech is committed to enacting Truth and Reconciliation and equity, diversity and inclusion in everything we do. A large part of that is creating representation and inclusive spaces on our campuses,” says Fred Meier, President and CEO of RRC Polytech. “By raising these three flags we are demonstrating to staff, students and community members that this is a place where you belong. We know that there are still institutions and situations where 2SLGBTQIA+, Indigenous and Métis people don’t feel welcome or recognized – but at RRC Polytech we are giving a firm message that everybody belongs and is welcome here.”
The three flags were raised with support from Joan Ledoux, Minister of Provincial Education at the Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF) – the National Government of the Red River Métis; David Beaudin, Associate Minister of Provincial Education at the MMF; Knowledge Keepers Barbara Bruce and Albert Mcleod, Vic Savino, Director of Communications at Treaty One and Elders and Knowledge Keepers from Treaty One Territory; and members of the RRC Polytech community.
Treaty One Flag
Treaty One represents Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) and Nehiyaw (Cree) original peoples of the territory of present-day southern Manitoba, including the Forks at the Assiniboine and Red rivers which was a vital trade and gathering site.
Treaty One Nation is composed of the seven First Nations who are signatories to the first of the numbered Treaties, originally signed on August 3, 1871, at Lower Fort Garry after several days of discussions and ceremonies.
“I am extremely proud to see RRC Polytech raise our Treaty One flag on their campus today. Despite the spirit and intent of the Treaty, which has benefitted the people of Manitoba for over 150 years, we were continuously denied of our rights, our titles, our jurisdictions, our culture, our language, and our children,” said Chief Gordon Bluesky of Brokenhead Ojibway First Nation and Treaty One Chairperson.
“Despite our darker periods of history, we are still standing strong, and each one of these flag-raising ceremonies is a concrete, tangible expression to our Treaty Partners that we are still here. Today, we can all look forward to a brighter future for the next generations, and feel the pride in sharing the history of Indigenous peoples on this land. Through these actions of reconciliation, our young Indigenous learners have a very bright future ahead.”
The Treaty One Nations flag was designed to incorporate the original spirit and intent of the Treaties: green, to represent the grass; blue, to represent the waters; and yellow to represent the sun. The red represents the circle of life and the red people who inhabit this land. Lastly, the seven points around the sun represent the seven signatory First Nations of Treaty No. 1.
RRC Polytech recognizes in its land acknowledgement that the land we use is the land of the Anishinaabe, Ininiwak, Anishininew, Dakota, and Dené and that Treaty One is the agreement that allows us the live the way we do.
Red River Métis Flag
The Red River Métis have a rich and important history, language, and culture. The Red River Settlement – now Winnipeg – is the heart of the Red River Métis Homeland and the birthplace of the Nation.
“The Red River Métis have been fighting to have our rich culture, heritage and history recognized and respected for over 200 years. Manitoba is the only province in Canada to have been brought into confederation by an Indigenous Nation with the signing of the Manitoba Act in 1870, intertwining the history of the Red River Métis with the history of Manitoba. Today, the MMF, the National Government of the Red River Métis, has made great strides in advancing our Nation and regaining our rightful place in Canada’s confederation. This flag-raising today is one small step toward a brighter future for our Red River Métis Youth, ensuring that they know their identity is recognized and celebrated as they achieve their educational goals at this institution,” said Minister Joan Ledoux, Minister of Provincial Education and Associate Minister of Métis Employment & Training at the Manitoba Métis Federation.
RRC Polytech recognizes the impact that the Red River Métis had in the formation of this city, province, and country. The Red River Métis were instrumental in confederation and fought battles to retain their rights throughout history – in the courtroom, in houses of government, and on the battlefield.
RRC Polytech Pride Flag
Last year RRC Polytech revealed the design of its new Pride Flag, which was painted on pedestrian walkways at the Notre Dame Campus, Exchange District Campus, and Portage la Prairie Campus. Moving forward, the flag will also be raised at RRC Polytech’s Paterson GlobalFoods Institute throughout the month of June.
The College’s Pride design is an evolution of the Progress Pride flag that includes representation for all 2SLGBTQIA+ (Two-Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and/or Questioning, Intersex and Asexual) community members, and includes specific Indigenous elements. It was created through engagement with RRC Polytech’s Knowledge Keepers Council, with a strong lead from Two Spirit and Métis Elder Barbara Bruce, and Two Spirit and Cree/ Métis Elder Albert McLeod.
RRC Polytech’s Pride design includes the following elements:
- The triangle represents the badge LGBT prisoners were forced to wear in Nazi concentration camps.
- Moving the triangle to the bottom maintains this meaning, but also forms a tepee, which is a shelter shape historically used by many First Nations people in Manitoba and shows the upward momentum of the movement.
- The Medicine Wheel incorporates traditional Indigenous knowledge and teachings.
- The purple and yellow circles around the Medicine Wheel recognize intersex folx.
By combining these elements and colours and displaying them in prominent locations, the Pride design has been created to represent all human beings, and welcome everyone on Indigenous lands.
“The Pride design was developed collaboratively across the College, carefully considering the meaning of all elements of the design, such as the colours, location of the chevron, and centering and orienting the Medicine Wheel”,” says Vera Godavari, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Specialist. “At RRC Polytech we are committed to our reconciliation journey as we walk the path of understanding, respect and advocacy with the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. As learning organization, we celebrate our progress and continue our dedication to this important work through these ongoing initiatives.”
In addition to consulting with RRC Polytech’s Knowledge Keepers’ Council, Students Association, and its Gender and Sexual Identities working group, RRC Polytech also worked with the Rainbow Resource Centre on the evolution of the College’s Pride design.
The flags can now be seen flying on the front lawn of Notre Dame Campus.