Celebrating National Flag of Canada Day

By: The Hon. Jane Cordy

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Hon. Jane Cordy: Thank you, Senator Cardozo, for initiating this inquiry on our flag. It is a great opportunity for all of us.

Honourable senators, many of us take for granted the idea that the flag represents the same thing to everyone. Prior to working in Ottawa, the Canadian flag was not something I thought much about.

When I first arrived in Ottawa after being appointed to the Senate, I must admit there was a certain excitement and a great sense of pride in seeing the flag, our Maple Leaf, on top of the Peace Tower. Knowing that I was here to represent my province of Nova Scotia as part of Team Canada was pretty special.

I must add that I still pinch myself and feel that same pride wash over me when I travel internationally on government business and I see our flag, whether on embassies or at NATO meetings or at meetings with people from other countries. In seeing that flag, I am also reminded of my father who fought in Italy during World War II. That connection for me is very emotional and very sentimental. That is what our flag means to me.

Honourable senators, symbols allow people to go beyond what is known or seen, creating linkages between otherwise different concepts and experiences. The flag, in many respects, exemplifies this. We do not all have the same experiences or feelings toward the flag and what it represents, but our flag does create a linkage and a context that inspires conversation. At the very least, I hope this is the case. I hope conversations, particularly around reconciliation, can be had and that we allow space for the differing emotions surrounding the flag.

May Flag Day inspire a look inward to examine what, if anything, Flag Day means to us as individuals and why it may mean that, while understanding that those sentiments are not necessarily shared.

I would like to finish my comments by quoting Tareq Hadhad, a Syrian refugee living in Nova Scotia, who, with his father, started a chocolate business called Peace by Chocolate in Antigonish. If you have never tasted their chocolate, I suggest that you do so. Here is his quote:

Forever the Canadian flag will be associated in my memory with a welcoming sign I saw after I came to this country that said: “Peace for you in Canada.” Our flag has always meant hope and home to me. Whenever I saw it during my whole journey, I felt safe and free. Now, wherever it flies, I know I will meet the kindest people on the planet.

Thank you.

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