A National Symbol

I remember as a 17-year-old travelling by train on my own, from Montreal to Ottawa for my birthday on what is now known as Flag Day.

I wanted to see the raising of our new Canadian flag. It was a painful political and national process to get us to a final decision. I wanted to be in the nation’s capital for this once-in-a-lifetime event.

It was an exciting day that I will always cherish – well, almost always.

Reflecting on that day now, I knew nothing about the hundreds if not thousands of children buried across the country. I knew Montreal had a reserve close to Montreal, but I never knowingly saw any ‘Indians’ on the bus when I travelled about.

To the privileged goes the power of definition.

Over time, with an increasing trajectory, I am becoming aware of the thin skin of absolute truth that has defined many things. One of these, being a national symbol – the flag.

The diversity of people in Canada has helped me on this journey of personal discovery. At different times I was aware of other world groups with their own stories as I rubbed shoulders with them; the 1956 Hungarian refugees, the Vietnamese boat people, spikes of various immigrant/refugee groups from war-torn countries.

Sadly, I was late to understand the Indigenous people’s unique place in my own country. They were not another group like any of the others. Contracts are signed on my behalf, with many I only now understand and appreciate. Other Indigenous groups were without contracts. All Indigenous people, including past and future generations, were original inhabitants of this land.

I look at the red maple leaf flag, and my reflection on its meaning is very different. Rather than representing my country as it is at any point in time, it represents what I aspire it to be – fair and respectful, valuing its plentiful resources and a nation needing to find a sustainable way to ensure that 7 generations henceforth will be equally as fortunate as the most fortunate inhabitant today.

Please give it a bit of a think. Any thoughts about what I’ve written about? What are your symbolic representations? What is the one to go on your figurative headstone?

I’m curious about your thoughts. Please leave your comment.

Photo by Jeremy Bezanger on Unsplash

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And my thanks to St. Albert Seniors Association: 780-459-0433 for making this Blog possible.

Volunteer Blogger


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