Tuesday, February 22, 2022

What the Canadian flag means to me

As a Canadian, one of the questions that I always ask myself is, "what does it mean to be Canadian?" This question is healthy to ask as it helps support a robust democracy.

Canadian flag at UBC

A few weeks ago, I received an email from someone increasingly concerned about how people were using the Canadian flag over the last month due to the protests, blockades, and occupation of Downtown Ottawa.

The Canadian flag symbolizes different things to people, which is fluid. For some people, the Canadian flag resents the chance of a better life. For others, the flag symbolizes colonialism, racism and repression. The flag is a stand-in, representing what people believe it means to be Canadian. Things can get murky because there is no such thing as a universal Canadian.

Flying the Canadian flag can elicit a range of emotions from pride to anger to indifference.

Walking down 56th Avenue, I've seen a few pickups (driving in circles) flying Canadian flags recently. I'm sure it wasn't due to the 26 metals that our amateur athletes are taking home.

At first, it made me feel uncomfortable. It made me feel uncomfortable because people were using the Canadian flag, like some Americans use their flag, to say that they are somehow more or better.

I've also seen the Canadian flag side-by-side with other symbols of hate in the past month. This is the most disturbing association.

I've realized that how people use the Canadian flag does not change what I believe it means to be Canadian.

It doesn't change that we still live in one of the most inclusive places in the world and that we can all belong here.

It doesn't change that we continue to question our past decision, both the good and the bad, to learn and move forward positively.

It doesn't change how we all come together when times get tough.

At the start of the pandemic, I was incredibly proud when politicians of all stripes and all levels of government came together to help their fellow Canadians.

I was incredibly proud when Canadians came together to help others out during the fires and floods over the last year.

When I see the Canadian flag, this is what it represents to me.

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