Hard work and ownership

Why we chose to fundraise for the Mik’maq flag

The Mount Allison Indigenous Student Support Group (ISSG) is having their first official powwow on March 22. The Mik’maq flag will be coming up permanently on campus, as well. The power that comes with it is ensuring that, when people are on our campus, they are aware that they are on unceded Mik’maq land and that the University honours the traditional custodians of this land. As I’m sure you’ve seen, the ISSG has been holding bake sale fundraisers to prepare for both the flag and powwow. The common misconception is that we were forced to fundraise in order to have the flag put up and to hold the powwow. This couldn’t be further from what happened.

The ISSG wants to claim these powerful events. We want to show we work for what we get, we are not simply taking handouts. We have raised our money to show the University that we will work for what we want and we will help raise the resources that are necessary. Many people in and out of the Mt. A community have assumed that we were forced to fundraise, and I’d like to take this opportunity to remind everyone that assuming makes an ass out of u and me.

Speaking with my peers, there’s a common theme that we are at least a little mad that people think we did not want to fundraise. To quote a third-year member of the ISSG: “I’m mad.” What is most discouraging is that most people did not have the decency to ask us if we were forced to do this. Asking this question should not be uncomfortable because the entire ISSG would happily answer, “No, we wanted to do this and claim it as our own.” We worked because we wanted to show how badly we wanted the flagpole and for the powwow to be successful.

I would like to remind everyone that the best way to be mad for Indigenous people is to ask us how we feel. Do not speak for Indigenous people, give us the platform to speak. You can do this by asking, “Hey, is Mt. A making you fundraise?” to which we would respond, “Nope, we wanted to,” and there you go! There’s the platform! We are not asking for a soapbox and a megaphone, just to provide the opportunity to speak.

Former Indigenous Affairs co-ordinator, Doreen Richard, at an ISSG bake sale supporting the Mik’maq flag and At. A’s first powwow. Laylia Bennett/Submitted

There have been numerous occasions that non-Indigenous people have interrupted me to educate another non-Indigenous people on various topics such as, for example, residential schools. Please stop. Please let me speak. My mother went to residential school and I have been studying them for personal reasons for years. Indigenous people know these struggles because we live them. Let us speak for ourselves, give us the opportunity to speak. It is not as hard as you think.

We hope that you enjoy the powwow and the raising of the Mik’maq flag. We are so proud of what we’ve done and the ISSG has done so much hard work for these significant events. Join us in celebrating our hard work at the powwow from 12:30-4:30 p.m. on March 22, starting outside the chapel for the flag raising.

Ashley Cummings