Town of Strathmore to permanently fly Siksika flag

The Town of Strathmore voted in favour of the purchase and installation of a new flagpole in front of the Strathmore Municipal Building to fly the flag of Siksika Nation.

Town administration initially approached council with a request to allocate $20,000 for the purchase and installation of two flag poles on the site of the municipal building.

Manager of recreation and culture Mark Pretzlaff presented to council and spoke to the request.

“Administration has received a number of requests from individual residents and community groups to display special flags in recognition of significant cultural events,” said Pretzlaff during the regular council meeting on Sept. 7. “An additional flagpole would enable (the town) to meet these requests and honour other recognized key partners such as Siksika Nation.”

Administration requested council to approve the $20,000 from the financial stabilization reserves for the purchase and installation of the flagpoles.

The original recommendation was to have one installed in front of the municipal building and the other on west side of the parking lot.

Pretzlaff explained the west side of the parking lot location would provide extra visibility for those special events. The pole in front of the municipal building could be a more permanent flag for Siksika Nation as one of the town’s key partners.

The intent was to purchase the flagpoles and install them, and in the meantime to develop a policy and procedure for how to deal with requests for the flying of special flags that may come in from local community groups.

Councillor Brent Wiley was against the motion, as he advocated the idea had immediate potential to create division within the community.

“Let’s take the month of June for example, we all know it’s Indigenous history month, we declared it Indigenous history month, I’m sure there’s a flag for that. The Catholic Parish makes up 15 per cent of Strathmore, maybe they want to apply to have the sacred heart of Jesus flown for the month of June,” said Wiley. “Maybe the Calgary Flames go deep into the playoffs and maybe a community group wants to put up the Flames (flag). I think for every group that we recognize, we exclude other groups and I think it will become a hassle.”

Wiley suggested that the town could be using taxpayer money to create a division within the community, and expressed a preference to keep the currently existing three flagpoles in front of the municipal building.

CAO Kevin Scoble suggested that in similar communities who have chosen to fly representative flags, there was generally no complaints and municipal administration had been careful to not raise flags that were politically oriented, representative of international affairs or of certain protest groups.

Deputy Mayor Denise Peterson suggested it would be an excellent way to build inclusion within the community and highlight groups that have specific needs or interests that lend themselves to education.

“I think that it has to be mindful and it has to have parameters and I think that when we move forward on that, it is a process of inclusion, not exclusion,” said Peterson.

Following a debate by council regarding the idea to fly the extra flags, an alternative motion was put to the floor. Instead of purchasing two flagpoles, only purchase one and fly the flag of Siksika Nation as a municipal partner. That motion was similarly debated before ultimately being passed 4-3.

John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times