Treaty Six flag flies at Wetaskiwin hospital after historic flag raising

May 22, 2024

WETASKIWIN — A Treaty Six flag was raised at Wetaskiwin Hospital and Care Centre facility today, marking the first time a Treaty Six flag has been permanently flown alongside the provincial and Canadian flags at an Alberta Health Services (AHS) facility.

“This flag is a sign of welcome to First Nations peoples who require healthcare services or come to visit family at the hospital,” says Andrea Thain Liptak, Senior Operating Officer for Rural Acute Care, Allied Health, Primary Care and Indigenous Health in AHS Central Zone.

“We are committed to eliminating anti-Indigenous racism, and improving the care experience and health outcomes for Indigenous people. Raising the Treaty Six flag is a constant reminder for us and for First Nation patients, residents and families of this commitment.”

Wayne LaBonte, Executive Director of the AHS Indigenous Wellness Core, says this is an important step to demonstrate reconciliation and inclusion for this hospital site.

“This recognizes Treaty 6 Territory and identifies that this site is committed to providing culturally safe care to Indigenous patients and families,” he said. “This is a step towards reconciliation and a commitment to working with Indigenous communities to ensure they are getting the safe care they need.”

The event, held on the hospital grounds, included a pipe ceremony and traditional Cree flag and honour song accompanying the flag raising, as well as speakers including Chief Wilton Littlechild, Thain Liptak, Wetaskiwin mayor Tyler Gandam, and members of the leadership of the four Nations at Maskwacis.

“This is a community with strong community values,” says Gandam. “We strive to be neighbourly, to be trustworthy and to build strong relationships. We took another step today toward becoming the welcoming place we want to be for all our friends and neighbours.”

Following the ceremony, First Nation leaders, dignitaries, staff and guests gathered to celebrate in the hospital’s cultural room, the home of Indigenous Hospital Support Services in Wetaskiwin.

Alberta Health Services is the provincial health authority responsible for planning and delivering health supports and services for more than four million adults and children living in Alberta. Our mission is to provide a patient-focused, quality health system that is accessible and sustainable for all Albertans. Our current focus is on reducing emergency department wait times, improving EMS response times, increasing access to surgeries, and improving patient flow.