In recognition of National Aboriginal Day, a ceremony was held at Horizon School Division central office to raise the Reconciliation Flag and the flags of Horizon's four First Nation partners -- Day Star First Nation, Fishing Lake First Nation, George Gordon First Nation and Muskowekwan First Nation.
Dignitaries representing each of Horizon's four partner First Nations joined with members of Horizon's Board of Education, representatives from the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN), Touchwood Agency Tribal Council, Métis Nation - Saskatchewan, Horizon Senior Leadership and central office staff.
The morning began with a pipe ceremony led by Austin Kay and Utin Machiskinic of Kawacatoose First Nation. The Horse Drum Group -- including Horizon Trustee, Paul Crow-Buffalo -- then performed an honour song as flags were raised by dignitaries in front of the Horizon central office building.
Horizon's Director of Education, Kevin Garinger, shared a few words about the division's commitment to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Calls to Action. Ms. Rhonda Bluehorn, FSIN Education Director, spoke on behalf of her organization and FSIN Chief, Bobby Cameron, to share their appreciation for the work being done by these First Nations and Horizon to support student learning and achievement. Sherry Foll, Area Representative from the Métis Nation - Saskatchewan, shared her appreciation to be invited to take part in the ceremony. Fishing Lake Chief Derek Sunshine spoke to thank everyone for joining the ceremony and for their work to support the reconciliation process.
Ed Bitternose, of George Gordon First Nation, shared the story of his experiences as a survivor of residential schools in a powerful message about healing and moving forward from that dark time in Canadian history. David Crow Buffalo, Day Star First Nation Council Member, then thanked Mr. Bitternose for sharing his testimony with all those gathered to hear it.
The morning concluded with performances by a number of traditional dancers, including Horizon Executive Assistant, Melanie Gray, and a round dance that was joined by all in attendance.
This ceremony would not have been possible without the great relationships and support of Horizon's First Nation partners, the support of Horizon's Board of Education and Horizon's Director of Education, Kevin Garinger, the planning by Horizon's Superintendent of Learning Services, Crandall Hrynkiw, Coordinator of First Nations & Métis Education Services, Lester Gardiner, Administrative Assistant, Shelley Schell, Curriculum Coach, Larry Mikulcik, and countless other Horizon staff members. The event was one of the many ways Horizon has committed to the vital reconciliation process of truth and healing, as part of our Safe & Caring goal.