Respected elder honoured by Skidegate flag raising ceremony

  • Dec. 10, 2008 11:00 a.m.

By Heather Ramsay–A Haida flag was raised on a brand new flagpole in honour of Ada Yovanovich at the Skidegate Haida Immersion Program building on Friday (Dec. 5). The ceremony around the event began with a prayer by Roy Jones Sr. and then Chief Niis Wes spoke. “We are sure that the strongest southeast wind can not push that pole over,” he said. Skidegate elder Ada Yovanovich believed every school should have a pole and flag, said Kevin Borserio of SHIP. “The elders refused to forget Ada’s dream,” he told the crowd of people, which included Ms Yovanovich’s children, grandchildren, clan members and many more. Ms Yovanovich died in 2002, but she was a respected elder who fiercely loved and fought for her people, Mr. Borserio said. “She spoke and taught her language until the end of her days,” he said. The flag pole was raised with the help of staff at Gwaii Haanas, who prepared the site, poured the concrete and set the pole in place. Marvin Pearson spoke on behalf of superintendent Ernie Gladstone. “We wanted to return a little of what we’ve received from SHIP over the years,” he said. Many chiefs and family members also spoke at the event. “Our mother’s dream was to have a good flag pole ‘not just a stick,’ she said,” said Diane Brown. It was also important to Ms Yovanovich that any flag flying beside the school belonged to the Haida people. Ms Brown thanked the Council of the Haida Nation for making sure there was such a flag to fly. Guujaaw spoke on behalf the CHN and noted that raising a Haida flag was a fitting way to recognize Ms Yovanovich and the things she did for her people, not the least of which was being arrested at Lyell Island during the 1985 protests, before the area was protected. “The flag is about our people and our connection to the land. It’s about our rights,” he said.