Flag Day: Canada's flag means 'a lot of different things, to different people'
February 15 is National Flag of Canada Day and the Maple Leaf is a symbol that means so much to so many.
“It means a lot of different things, to different people; the flag is a symbol of Canada, all countries have symbols — we attach a lot of importance to them,” says Richard Nimijean, instructor of Indigenous and Canadian Studies at Carleton University.
The Maple Leaf flag was raised for the first time 57 years ago on this date.
A joint committee of the Senate and the House of Commons approved the 11-pointed red leaf design in 1964. It was later adopted by Parliament and approved through Royal Proclamation, and became the official flag on Feb. 15, 1965.
“The Canadian flag is a symbol of unity, it’s a symbol of hope, and I think it’s one of the things that every true Canadian, when he sees - it does something to his heart, it does something to his spirit,” says Benjamin, an Ottawa resident, while shopping in Barrhaven.
It’s a symbol having an impact both at home and abroad.
“I feel very proud,” says Jennifer Gale, another shopper in Barrhaven, “Canada is respected all over the world, and I just feel good being from here.”
“Flag Day is every day for the military,” says Danny Martin, a veteran and director of corporate services for the Royal Canadian Legion.
“For the military, they wear it on their shoulder every day with pride and knowing that’s what they’re representing and putting their lives on the line with. To them, it’s more than just a symbol, it’s home, it’s peace, it’s freedom. It’s everything it represents and everything they’re willing to lay down their lives down for.”
In recent weeks, protestors in Ottawa and other cities have displayed the flag in a variety of ways.
“There is a right way and a wrong way to use the flag. I think one of the more troubling things I see is when we tend to disrespect the flag,” says Paolo Gentile, a PhD Candidate of political science at Carleton University.
Gentile says incidents, like that of video on social media of someone setting fire to a flag at the protest is disrespectful.
“There are a lot of people using the flag at these protests to symbolize what they think Canada should be, and what we should emphasize, but I think we can definitely say that the flag is being disrespected when we’re burning it.”