Canadian Flag

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The following article was researched and written by
Ritu Banga. More contributors.

Significance of the Canadian Flag

As Canada's national flag, the Canadian flag is a very significant. This flag represents Canada's unity and historical events and how it has been part of Canada since 1965. It shows the loyalty to Canadians and how it is its own independence, not under the ruling of Britain anymore. The Canadian Heritage is a symbol in which is displayed by the Canadian flag and is important for preserving traditions and inspiring love of a country. This flag portrays Canada's language, faith, vision, and the economy as Canada grew in patriotism and nationalism. The symbols recognized on the back of traveling bags, shirts, jackets, hats and accessories showing that Canadians are proud of their heritage and not scared to wear their true colors. It contains red and white in which is Canada's official colours with a red maple leaf in the center. The Canadian flag is a recognizable symbol of pride for the Canadian nationhood. Canada is trusted and appreciated by other countries especially those countries where Canada has provided peacekeeping services.

Background the Canadian Flag

The Canadian flag was raised for the first time on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on February 15, 1965 at noon. Thousands of Canadians joined Governor General Georges Vanier and Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson to witness the official ceremony. Across the country ceremonies were replayed countless times as Canadians gathered together in small towns and villages and in city neighborhoods to celebrate a flag that was of their own making and uniquely Canadian. The Canadian flag is recognized throughout the world as the most prominent and visible symbol of Canada. " The flag is a symbol of the nation's unity for it beyond any doubt, represents all the citizens of Canada without distinction of race, language, belief or opinion"(Brune, 2000:7).

The maple leaf became a part of the national flag in 1964. At the time Lester B. Pearson was the prime minister. His goal was to have a new flag and celebrate the 100th birthday of Canada. Prime minister Pearson wanted a flag that was "distinctly Canadian which could not be mistaken for the emblem of any other country" (Alistair, 1998: 5) In order for a new flag to be invented he created a committee to help. The committee was a group of 15 members of Canada's government. But John Diefenbaker, leader of the Opposition, fought hard to keep the Red Ensign that showed Canada's historic link to Britain. Discussion led to debate that lasted for 15 days. It was one of the longest debates in the history of Canadian Parliament. A bitter battle arose over the flag because no one could decide on the center symbol. Many Canadians had made their own flag designs. They sent their designs to the flag committee in Ottawa. The committee received over 2000 different designs.

In the time of the creation for the new flag Jacques St.Cyr designed the maple leaf on the national flag. He used a leaf from the sugar maple as a model for his design. The design was easy to see from a distance. No other country in the world has a maple leaf on its national flag. "Canada's flag serves to identify something Canadian. More specialized in its use, Canada's arms identify national authority and jurisdiction. Leaving aside strictly decorative uses of either, the flag is used wherever one wishes to make the simple statement: Canada or Canadian; the arms only where the authority of the nation is asserted."(Alistair, 1998: 1)

All the members of Canada's government met in the House of Commons on December 15,1964. Together they chose the maple leaf flag as the National Flag of Canada. It was the first time Canada had a national flag. Joan O'Malley sewed the first flag color. Queen Elizabeth II came to Canada to proclaim the new official national flag. She came to Ottawa on February 15,1965. The maple leaf flag was flown for the first time on this day. It was flown over the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.

Before February 15, 1965 the flag in Canada was the British Red Ensign within the Canadian coat of arms. The composite nature of the dominion is reflected in the coat of arms. The shield shows the arms of four countries that colonized Canada: England, Scotland, Ireland and France. The supporters are the British lion and Scottish unicorn. The French banner also appears. The lion on the helm has a maple leaf and commemorates those who fell in WWI.

In 1921 King V approved red and white as Canada's official colors in the proclamation of the royal arms of Canada. The king at request of Canada assigned to Canada the national colors. The arms must contain emblems of a special Canadian nature. He declared the national emblem of Canada.

The colors of the flag are very symbolic. The flag is red and white. Before the coming of the first European settlers, Canada's aboriginal peoples had discovered the food properties of maple sap gathered every spring For historians, the maple leaf began to serve as a Canadian symbol as early Maple leaf to symbolize the land and people as 1700. It was used to identify Canadian contingents in the two world wars. Came down to three possibilities, the red ensign, the three-maple leaf idea, or a large red maple leaf with red bars on a white background. Pearson wanted three red maple leaves on a white background with blue bars at the side. He wanted to represent the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. "This flag contains a stylized 11-point red leaf in its center with two red horizontals on each side. The Canadian Flag (colloquially known as The Maple Leaf Flag) is a red flag of the proportions two by length and one by width, containing in its center a white square, with a single red stylized eleven-point maple leaf centered in the white square."(Alistair, 1998: 3). The Canadian flag is a recognizable symbol of Canada's welcome to immigrants and peacekeeping around the world.

Bibliography for the Canadian Flag

  • Brune, Nick and Bulgutch, Mark. Canadian by Conviction Asserting Our Citizenship. Ontario: Gage Educational Publishing Company, 2000.
  • Matheson, R, John. Canada's Flag: A Search for a Country. Belleville Canada: Mika Publishing Company, 1986.