April 12th, 2024

College celebrates Metis Sash Day


By Lethbridge Herald on November 16, 2023.

Metis veteran Roderick McLeod, at left, is presented with a quilt of valour by retired warrant officer and military historian Glenn Miller during the Metis Sash Day celebration Thursday at Lethbridge College. Herald photo by Alejandra Pulido-Guzman

Alejandra Pulido-Guzman – LETHBRIDGE HERALD – apulido@lethbridgeherald.com

Lethbridge College celebrated Métis Sash Day Thursday to honour the culture, history and contribution of the Métis community with a multitude of cultural activities. 

Each year on Nov. 16, Métis people across Canada pay tribute to the Right Honourable Louis Riel, a political leader who spent his life defending Métis rights. 

The celebration of culture and identity coincides with the anniversary of Riel’s execution by the Government of Canada in 1885.

The celebration began with a prayer by Métis Sash Day organizer and academic advisor – Indigenous focus, Brittany Lee, followed by opening remarks from members of the Métis community, a quilt of valour presentation to a local Métis veteran and a flag-raising ceremony where the Métis anthem was sang while two Métis students raised the Métis flag. 

Retired Warrant Officer and military historian Glenn Miller presented Métis veteran Roderick McLeod with a Quilt of Valour during the celebration, and said the quilt was a way to recognize veterans in the community and show appreciation for their service. 

“Rod joined the military right after school, and when he did retire he still contributed as a veteran and is making his way to become an elder through the mentorship of youth through the cadet program,” said Miller 

He said McLeod is also a mentor through the Bald Eagle program, a program designed specifically for Indigenous people to experience the military under an aboriginal umbrella. Miller then proceeded to present McLeod with the quilt issued on behalf of the non-for-profit society of the same name. 

Miller explained that each quilt of valour is serialized with an individual tag that is assigned to each particular veteran and it is done by the representative of the quilts of valour. 

McLeod, who was unable to speak after losing his voice to a recent cold, touched his chest in a sign of thanks when receiving the quilt. 

After the quilt presentation, the flag-raising ceremony took place and then those in attendance were able to take part  in the day’s activities and explore the various vendors of Métis arts and crafts. 

Sash Day organizer Brittany Lee spoke to reporters after the flag raising and said she was excited to share the Métis culture with those in attendance, and show them how much fun their culture is. 

“It’s extremely important to us to be able to share our culture, as there are a lot of misconceptions of who we are, what we’re about and what our culture is like, so to have this opportunity to share and to see other students who are Métis come out and participate in this event is amazing,” said Lee. 

She said it creates a sense of community and belonging at Lethbridge College and allows people from other cultures to explore their own as well. 

“I want to spark interest and have people to be able to explore and to ask more questions, to see what else is out there for Métis in the community. We run lots of community programs as well and so if they are feeling like they want to connect in a different way, or to learn more about that, this is a really great way for them to reach out to us and participate in the community as a whole,” said Lee.

A Lethbridge College student who is Métis and was one of the two students to raise the Métis flag, Kelan Coates, told reporters that growing up in Saskatchewan he had very deep roots within the Métis culture, but was never celebrated but now he is proud to wear his sash everyday, thanks to the way the college approaches his culture. 

“It wasn’t until my first year here for the Natural Resource Compliance program that I really started to respect and understand the culture more, and people like Brittany really enforce it, so it’s been really nice to be comfortable wearing my sash every day and just feel like I belong finally,” said Coates. 

He said he enjoys taking any opportunity given to him to share a little bit of history and meaning of the sash when people ask him about it. 

“The sash is mainly an identifier in modern times, but it has always been a tool for the Métis people, it has all sorts of uses, so for it to be respected and brought back into modern culture is amazing,” said Coates.

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