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Frank Russell proud Mi'kmaq flag raising going to take place after two decades of lobbying

Frank Russell poses for a photo with the Mi'kmaq flag that will be raised for the first time at Stephenville Town Hall during National Aboriginal Day on the morning of June 21.
Frank Russell poses for a photo with the Mi'kmaq flag that will be raised for the first time at Stephenville Town Hall during National Aboriginal Day on the morning of June 21. - Frank Gale

Frank Russell will be taking great pride as he participates in the raising of the Mi’kmaq flag in Stephenville on Canada’s National Aboriginal Day.

He said for more than two decades he’s been trying to get recognition for Stephenville, which he said was one of the original Mi’kmaq villages in Newfoundland, and believes this flag raising that’s finally going to happen will be a great symbol of that.

Canada's National Aboriginal Day is held annually on June 21 to celebrate the unique heritage, diverse cultures, and outstanding achievements of the nation's aboriginal peoples. The Mi’kmaq Nation is one of Canada’s First Nations groups.

“I always wanted to get a Mi’kmaq flag flown. Someone had to move it forward to get it done so I’ve been pushing for it,” Russell said.

The flag raising ceremony is set to take place between 10 and 10:30 a.m. that day and it’s hoped there will be a good turnout of people. The Bay St. George Mi’kmaq Drummers will be on hand for the ceremony.

He believes Mi’kmaq people in Stephenville, which has strong ties to aboriginal communities, have to learn to accept themselves as Indigenous people.

Russell, who lives in Port au Port East, has also been pushing to have the Mi’kmaq flag flown at other towns in the Bay St. George area, especially those that now have mayors who are non-status Indians.

He said he certainly has nothing against other flags being flown at town halls in municipalities, but it’s important to let people know who you are.

“This (flag) is not being put up for glory but rather for honour, especially in memory of our Mi’kmaq veterans, and there are lots of them,” Russell said.

He had praise for support he received from Paul Pike and Patrick Park Tighe of The People of the Dawn Friendship Centre and Stephenville Mayor Tom Rose, among others.

Rose said he’s proud of his Mi’kmaq heritage, as it’s part of who he is, and he fully supports Russell in the flag-raising event.

“We need to hold on to our history,” he said.

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