Dan Gawthrop | CUPE Communications

History was made outside a public school in Whistler on May 6, as the flags of two First Nations communities were raised beside the Canadian flag in a symbolic display of cross-cultural cooperation in the local school district - an event CUPE had a role in making happen.

Flag raising in BC

At a sun-drenched, mid-day ceremony held near the entrance to Whistler Secondary School, representatives of the Lil’wat and Squamish First Nations, along with those
of School District 48 (Sea-to-Sky), presided over a symbolic flag-raising that participants described as an important sign of progress in the recognition of aboriginal communities
as equal partners in BC education. 

Members of both First Nations, appearing in traditional ceremonial dress before a crowd of about 75, shared prayers of gratitude to the beat of drums, followed by the sharing of a pipe, before the two First Nations’ flags were raised on the school flagpoles. Along with Whistler Secondary and district representatives, the Lil’wat and Squamish speakers thanked the Indigenous leadership team, students and staff for their work in organizing the event. 

“The significance of the event is that we are teaching our children fundamentals of how to be with each other - and that there’s a way we can do it that has deeper connection and meaning that makes us stronger,” says CUPE 779 member Kiyoshi Kosky, an educational assistant who advocated for the flag raising at the school district and was part of the organizing team for the event. 

CUPE 779, which represents K-12 support staff in the Sea-to-Sky school district, endorsed the event at its April 22 AGM.