Most memorable day for mayor as he receives a Cree name

Red Deer Mayor Morris Flewwelling’s 71st birthday on Saturday was one of the “most important and memorable” days of his life.

After the naming ceremony had concluded

After the naming ceremony had concluded

Red Deer Mayor Morris Flewwelling’s 71st birthday on Saturday was one of the “most important and memorable” days of his life.

It was in part because this was his first day as Mountain Eagle, or asiniw-waci kihew in Cree.

Mountain Eagle is Flewwelling’s new Cree name, bestowed upon him at Fort Normandeau this weekend during a special pipe and naming ceremony.

It is one of the most sacred and highest honours handed out to those deserving of it by the aboriginal community.

“I’m humbled to the core and deeply, deeply honoured,” said Flewwelling to the nearly 200 people gathered in a circle at the celebration, smiling from ear to ear under a majestic headdress full of eagle feathers.

“Today is a very, very powerful day for me.”

The Central Alberta aboriginal community chose to give a Cree name to Flewwelling to honour and recognize his long-standing commitment to the community.

Following tradition, local elders Frank and Rosena Winnie of Red Deer also “adopted” Flewwelling as kin in conjunction with the naming ceremony.

Flewwelling has showed passionate leadership and advocacy in building stronger relationships with aboriginal communities for many decades, said Frank after the ceremony.

While director of the Red Deer and District Museum, the mayor was behind the exhibit Where the Old Man Slept which featured the exhibit labels in English as well as Cree.

This was believed to be one of the first displays to do so in Canada, said Frank.

Flewwelling also co-hosted a national conference in 1992 with Phil Fontaine, former National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, called Turning the Page.

At this conference, explained Frank, policies and protocols were developed for museums to follow when it came to accessing aboriginal stories and materials. These standards will subsequently adopted internationally, said Frank.

“Mayor Flewwelling has recently continued to show his support for the aboriginal community by being an advocate for the Urban Aboriginal Voices initiative as well as the development of an aboriginal healing centre in Red Deer.

“He continues to meet on a regular basis with local urban elders as a way to build and maintain positive relationships . . . We are gathered here to acknowledge and honour his commitment to our community,” said Frank.

John Crier, a Hobbema elder who works at the Pê Sâkâstêw Healing Centre, prayed to the Creator for Flewwelling’s Cree name during the first pipe ceremony Saturday afternoon.

Names are not given out lightly, said Lynn Jonasson, the elder at Safe Harbour who leads the aboriginal support services program there.

“They are given out to show when people have done wonderful things in their lives,” said Jonasson.

“Like the eagle, he (Flewwelling) looks after things and people. He has patience and love for all things. And mountains are also sacred because there are where we find peace and he is like a peacemaker, bringing peace.”

After the name was given from the spirit of the Creator, there was a cleansing smudging ceremony with the smoke from burning sweet grass and sage. Next, a decorative headdress or “war bonnet” was placed on Flewwelling’s head, followed up by applause and drumming.

It stayed there for the rest of the day.

“I feel like I’m wearing a crown,” said the mayor.

rfrancoeur@bprda.wpengine.com