Historic Pride Flag Raising at VMHS Sends Message of Love, Inclusion
Each June, Pride Month is recognized around the world as an occasion to celebrate acceptance, love, and inclusion for 2SLGBTQ+ people. On Friday, June 4, 2021, Voyageur Memorial High School recognized Pride Month with the historic action of raising a rainbow flag at the school.
VMHS administrators say the flag raising was an opportunity to spread positivity while living their vision of “a safe and nurturing holistic community.”
Cree School Board leadership applauded the initiative shown by VMHS in raising the flag, saying it was an important symbol of acceptance and love for all.
"VMHS did a wonderful job in showing acceptance and love of two-spirited and LGBTQ+ people, not only to those in their school but also to the community at large. The raising of flags ceremony displays the profound respect for the promotion of equality, dignity, self-affirmation and visibility of this group. Our students need to know that our school board is a place of acceptance and that we stand united as we all believe in equality and dignity of human beings."
The making of a rainbow flag for VMHS
VMHS teachers Krista, Melissa, and Logan were inspired to create the unique flag after seeing a design posted online by Eeyou-Eenou Princess Geraldine Shecapio. According to the teachers, Geraldine and other youth in Mistissini were central to making the flag raising a reality:
"This was all inspired by one of our VMHS graduates and current Eeyou-Eenou Princess, Geraldine Shecapio. They designed an Eeyou-Eenou Pride Flag and we were able to use their design to decorate the flag to put up. Youth Chief Justice Debassige and interim Deputy Youth Chief Stacy Anderson have both been special voices in ensuring the safety and inclusion of 2SLGBTQ+ people within the Cree Nation of Mistissini. Angel Baribeau and their musical and cultural contributions... so many other incredibly inspiring youth who aren't necessarily public figures."
After receiving permission to use the design, the teachers worked through Thursday night to prepare the flag. They hand-ironed printed decals, while administrators and staff shared the news of the ceremony with community members. On Friday, dozens of Cree School Board students and employees joined together to recognize the flag raising event.
Sending a message of love and acceptance
At the flag raising ceremony on Friday afternoon, Principal Betty Anne Forward shared the reason behind the decision to display a Pride flag at VMHS:
"The reason we raise a flag is to show our respect, our love and our support for our two-spirited and LGBTQ+ students, staff, teachers and community members. We want everyone to know that VMS is a school that welcomes anyone – any gender, sexual orientation, colour. We want students to know that this is a safe place to come to school."
Cree School Board Chairperson, Dr. Sarah Pash, echoes this message of love and acceptance for the 2SLGBTQ+ community:
"We all have a valued place in Creation and share responsibility to uphold that truth from a place of love, acceptance, and celebration of each other’s unique gifts. Let’s be there for each other. Let’s hold each other high!"
The flag will remain raised at VMHS until the end of the month, but school and Cree School Board leadership hope the message it sends will resonate throughout the year.
Further Reading and Resources
The Cree School Board has received some questions from students and parents about the history of pride, how to discuss 2SLGBTQ+ issues with children, and support services. Here are some helpful links which may help:
Information about 2SLGBTQ+ and Pride:
- What is “Two-Spirited”?
- What is “Queer Culture”?
- The History of Pride in Canada
- The History of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights in Canada
Supports for parents:
- PFLAG (peer-to-peer support for parents and families of 2SLGBTQ+ people)
- Gender Creative Kids – parent resources