Saturday, August 13, 2022

Has the meaning behind the Canadian flag changed? – Podcast

As we approach Canada Day – and the prospect of the return of “freedom” protests in Ottawa – let us consider the meaning and symbolism of the Canadian flag.

After weeks of the so-called freedom convoy last winter, many of us have taken a hard look at the symbolism of the Canadian flag and its recent association with white supremacy. Some felt a new fear or anger about what they felt the flag represented.

But other communities have always felt that way about the Canadian flag.

After unmarked graves were found at the sites of former residential schools, the Canadian flag was hoisted half-mast in many places to show shame for our collective history and solidarity with indigenous communities. And last year on Canada Day, many people asked to wear orange instead of red and white.

Other movements such as Landback, Resistance150, Idle No More, Pride and Black Lives Matter have also created awareness about challenges to Canadian nationalism and belonging.

Both of our guests on this episode of Do not call me resilient multiculturalism, citizenship and should have studied. Daniel McNeil looks at history and culture and the complexities of global Black communities. He is a professor and national student chair in Black Studies at Queen’s University. Lucy El-Sherif is a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto in Ethnic and Pluralism Studies.

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Fans cheer and wave Canadian flags ahead of the start of the Canada-Jamaica World Cup qualifying action in Toronto on March 27, 2022.
THE CANADIAN PRESS / Frank Gunn

Symbols can and do change

In our conversation, Daniel McNeil said:

The flag can be many different things. But I think the critical question is to ask, why are those who acknowledge its violence portrayed as killjoys or marginalized or stigmatized?

Lucy El-Sherif said:

“We really need to think about what it means to be a person of color who lives as a settler on indigenous lands. And what does it mean for us to express solidarity with indigenous people? The interests of people of color are many otherwise … Whenever we question what’s going on with Canada, [we get]: ‘Go back to where you came from. You have to be thankful that you came to this country. ”

For many people, the Canadian flag is a symbol to be proud of: it is something they feel represents Canada’s multiculturalism, the idea that the country can welcome anyone. They want to wave the flag – whether at a Raptors game, World Cup game or rally.

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Some op-ed writers have pleaded with audiences to wave the flag this year, to take back a symbol they feel proud of.

As McNeil said, Canada is defined as:

“To welcome others… with positive qualities of justice, openness and generosity… we have these feelings that we associate with a flag, but [we should also take] seriously how others can associate that flag with pleasure or joy. And how do we open up space for those conversations about different historical memories? ”

Canadian residents of Iran who have just received their citizenship are waving Canadian flags after the citizenship oath ceremony in Vancouver, BC, in July 2017
New Canadians Wave Canadian Flags After Taking the Oath of Citizenship at a Special Canada Day Ceremony in West Vancouver, BC
THE CANADIAN PRESS / Darryl Dyck

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Do not call me resilient is manufactured and presented by Vinita Srivastava. Series co-producers are: Lygia Navarro and Haley Lewis. Vaishnavi Dandekar is an assistant manufacturer. Jennifer Moroz is our consulting manufacturer. Lisa Varano is our Audience Development Editor and Scott White is the CEO of The Conversation Canada. Do not call me resilient is a production of The Conversation Canada. This podcast was produced with an award for Journalism Innovation from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Transcript

Go here for an unedited transcript.

Audio credits

Thanks to the following resources for additional audio:

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