In what is believed to be a first for communities along Hwy. 16, the District of Houston will be installing a flag pole in front of its administrative offices from which to fly an “Every Child Matters” flag.
The flag of the now distinctive orange colour and the three words “Every Child Matters” has grown in use and recognition following the first discovery last month in Kamloops of unmarked graves at the location of a former residential school for Indigenous children.
The decision, reached at the July 6 council meeting, follows the three flags there now — the Canadian, B.C. and Houston flags — being lowered to half mast for approximately one week following news that more than 200 unmarked graves had been found in the area of a former Indian residential school in Kamloops.
At the same time, the council has passed a motion to investigate the possibility of flying a Wet’suwet’en flag, also in front of the District’s administration office.
Speaking to the idea of flying the two flags, mayor Shane Brienen, who introduced the subject at the July 6 meeting, said it was important for the District to recognize the impact and history of Indigenous residential schools in the country.
“We did fly the flags at half mast when the discoveries were made,” he noted of the District’s move at the end of June in which the flags were lowered for an hour for each unmarked grave found in Kamloops.
And the prospect of flying a Wet’suwet’en flag in front of the District’s administration offices is a step toward recognizing all peoples of all communities in the area, Brienen said.
“We’re trying to move forward and this is one way of doing that,” he said. “We are neighbours, this is a path, one step at a time.”
While an “Every Child Matters” flag may be easily ordered, the council is reaching out to two Wet’suwet’en entities for guidance about flying a Wet’suwet’en flag.
One of those entities is the Wet’suwet’en First Nation, formerly the Broman Lake Band, whose territory is in the Houston area stretching east toward Burns Lake, while the other is the Office of Wet’suwet’en Chiefs which provides social services and which works on fishing and forestry projects either by itself or in partnership with various companies. It is also the prime contact between governments and companies on resource and governance matters.
Contact with both respects the elected leadership structure of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation and the hereditary leadership structure of the Office of Wet’suwet’en Chiefs, explained District of Houston chief administrative officer Gerald Pinchbeck.
As of last week, the District had not heard from either the Wet’suwet’en First Nation or the Office of Wet’suwet’en Chiefs.