Members of the Sault Ste. Marie Police Service, along with some of their community partners, gathered at the Police Headquarters this morning for the blessing of the new Police Service flag.
This process began in 2015 when they were granted a new police service crest by (then) Governor General David Johnston and the National Heraldic Society on March 20 of that year.
The drumhead ceremony began in the 1700s as a way for military personnel to bless their regimental flags. To this day, Police Services have continued to use this practice to bless their service flags. This particular ceremony was the first of its kind for the Sault Ste. Marie Police Service, as they’ve never had their own custom flag before.
“Really, this is all about blessing our flag and looking for acceptance from Indigenous communities as well as the church and our own personal journeys to talk about the strength that provides us in dealing with issues on the street,” Police Chief Hugh Stevenson told SaultOnline. “And for me it’s important to know that there’s always a higher power that officers can draw upon or civilian staff can draw upon when making decisions in the community.”
Ceremonial Sergeant Major Ray Magnan, who’s been involved in this project from the start in 2011, told SaultOnline that it feels great to see the final steps come to fruition.
“We have a new Chief, and (we) felt like it was a good time to have this done, as one of the final steps of bringing the new flag in,” he said. “So it was nice to have everyone participate in this – both First Nations and the Senior Command and officers in our police services.”
Both Stevenson and Magnan said they think this ceremony is an important way to get the community to understand that, as Stevenson said, “we’re not alone out there when we’re making decisions.”
“When we have the blessing of Indigenous communities and the Creator, and the church, and the nice blessing with the Padre (Father Jerry Lazoryk), it just gives us that extra confidence that we can do our job even better and we have a higher power to draw upon when asked,” Stevenson said.
Magnan added that he thinks the traditional aspect of this is something the members of the police service can feel good about.
“We’re based on tradition, we’re a paramilitary organization, rank structure and a lot of the traditions that we have, so having this, part of that tradition is something our members can feel proud of.”