Published on September 22, 2023
A special flag raising ceremony to launch the newly installed flagpole plaza kicked off Aboriginal Culture Day at NAIT on Thursday, September 21 at the polytechnic’s Main Campus.
Located at the corner of Princess Elizabeth Avenue and 106 Street, NAIT’s flagpole plaza displays seven flags including NAIT (two flags), Canada, the Province of Alberta, the City of Edmonton, Treaty 6, and Métis flags.
The plaza permanently recognizes NAIT’s location on Treaty 6 territory and honours all Indigenous people. The seven flagpoles also represent a sacred number to the Indigenous community connected to the 7 Grandfather Teachings of knowing and doing that have been passed down through generations: wisdom, love, respect, bravery, honesty, humility and truth.
“I love the idea of what we’re doing – I love the visibility of what we’re doing,” said Derek Thunder, who spoke at the event and is the manager of the Nîsôhkamâtotân Centre, a place where Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students can gather to network, study and share their post-secondary learning experiences at NAIT. “It’s a small step but many small steps can make a big impact.”
The second NAIT flag will be removed during specific times of the year to acknowledge days of significance, bringing visibility to equity-deserving communities. The plaza replaces NAIT’s previous flagpoles located outside the South Lobby along 106 Street.
The flag raising ceremony started a full slate of activities and events aimed at celebrating and learning about Indigenous culture. Aboriginal Culture Day at NAIT included Tipi raising and teachings, an Aboriginal artisan market, Metis jigging, Pow-Wow dancing and drumming, and more.
Aboriginal Culture Day leads off a week of learning and reflection at NAIT leading up to the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and Orange Shirt Day on September 30. A flag lowering ceremony will take place on September 30 to honour the survivors, victims and families of the residential school system.
The NAIT community will recognize Orange Shirt Day with a shirt that was designed by current NAIT Culinary Arts student, Drea Halfe. All proceeds from shirt sales will be donated to the Orange Shirt Society.