SLFN Unveils
Treaty 6
Welcome Sign

SLFN Unveils Treaty 6 Welcome Sign

During their Treaty Week, July 24 - 30, 2023, Sturgeon Lake First Nation, with a number of major events planned, including holding Treaty Day at their community hall, and hosting their annual powwow, held a ceremony to unveil a special welcome sign at the East end of their reserve community. The rather large sign was wrapped in a very large blue tarp until the unveiling.

Other activities planned for Treaty Week included a horseshoe tournament, booths set up by the Health Centre and other organizations at the band hall, and offering food such as chili and bannock. A special feature as part of the first Grand Entry at the powwow that evening, said Chief Longjohn – some thing they’d been preparing for – “is the initiation of our children and our youth into the powwow circle, so we can ground them with their culture before the gangs and addictions grab them, so we want to embrace them and surround them with love and show them that there is a good way of life out there.”

It was a sunny and slightly breezy, Wednesday, July 26 at around 11:30am, when the ceremony began with an opening prayer by Elder Mary Rose Naytowhow of the SLFN Elders’ Executive. She had first been offered tobacco by Chief Christine Longjohn.

With Northern Lights Community Development Corporation general manager, Blake Charles, in attendance, she thanked the organization for providing the entire funding for the sign – actually two signs – the other being at the west end of the reserve.

“We’re always very thankful and very grateful to NLCDC in all that they do for the communities. There are a lot of things that we’re not funded for, so this is a way that we can fund things that we need for our community,” Chief Longjohn said.

“This sign is to instill pride within our nation,” Chief Longjohn said. “It’s to empower ourselves and to remind ourselves who we are as Treaty People. Today we’re celebrating Treaty 6 with Treaty Day. This is to remind our children and our grandchildren when we’re no longer here, of who they are, that they are Treaty People – they belong to Treaty 6.

”She thanked the band council for their cooperation and teamwork in all they do. David Jack, an artist, had assembled the signs, but they were not 100 percent complete at the time of the unveiling. Solar-powered lights still needed to be installed, and will illuminate the sign at night.

Removing the protective tarp was not easy given the height of the structure and the wind did create a bit of havoc, as feared, but all applauded when they saw the sign.

It is no ordinary sign. Although it has thick, dark, sturdy wooden poles as supports, it is predominantly silver in colour, stands at least 25 feet in height, over 20 feet wide, and prominently displays the main feature of the SLFN logo, which is a pipe, and the familiar Treaty medal depicting a Treaty Commissioner and a First Nation leader shaking hands to signify that Treaty promises made will be honoured.

The sign is large, striking and special, welcoming members and visitors alike to the Treaty 6 signatory community that is Sturgeon Lake First Nation.

Iron Swing, a local drum group, sang an honour and victory song to complete the ceremony.

Submitted by Ron Merasty