Lester B Pearson was one of this country’s great Prime Ministers. A Nobel Peace Prize winner, he was a proud Canadian. One of his great legacies was the Canadian Flag which he gave us 1965. I am proud of the flag and am pleased to fly the flag in my yard. On Tuesday February 15th it was Flag Day in Canada. This day, instituted in 2006, was designed to give us a day on which we might show a sense of pride and patriotism in our flag. Under our current government, this seems to be a day largely forgotten. It is ironic given the Harper government sees itself as fiercely protecting ‘Canadian values.’ I am disappointed that Flag Day goes by without notice most years. The truth remains however that we need to be the ones who proudly wear the Maple Leaf. That there is a day set aside for such a purpose should have little bearing on our verve for being proud of our flag. It is not uncommon to hear people bemoan that fact that American’s have a deeper sense of patriotism and wave their flags in a much more spirited fashion than we do in Canada. While we decry the lack of pride in our flag, I am not sure it is true. While I would love to see us display our pride in the flag better than we do, I also know that we have our own way of being a proud and patriotic people. The truth is that we are as patriotic as our continental neighbours. We display our pride in a different fashion. We tend to take pride in being a people who are welcoming, diverse, plural, free, and humble. For those who have any doubt, we need only look back to a year ago. We are one year removed from the Vancouver Olympics. Our patriotism was on display and it was spontaneous and it was plentiful.

When the flag was adopted in 1965 Pearson, our proud and patriotic peace-keeper said, “Under this Flag may our youth find new inspiration for loyalty to Canada; for a patriotism based not on any mean or narrow nationalism, but on the deep and equal pride that all Canadians will feel for every part of this good land.” What defines a patriot in Canada? I think Pearson’s words lend a hint – we are patriotic when we are loyal to Canada not for narrow nationalism but indeed because of the broad equality that we wish for all persons in this great land. We are proud to be a country which seeks equality for those who have been here forever and for those who arrived today. That sense of openness to people of our great land and our global community, who seek to come here, has come to define Canada.

In 2004 we travelled to Australia. I met a young man in a mall one day with a Canadian flag on is rucksack. I said hello and asked where he was from. “The east,” he said. “Cool, so am I. Where are you from out east,” I asked. He was very sheepish at that point. “To tell the truth, I am from New Hampshire. I get treated better abroad if I have a Canadian flag on my bag.” That moment was for me a reminder of how fortunate I am to be a Canadian.

If you missed Flag Day on Tuesday, fret not. There are 364 other days in the year to show your pride by flying your flag – If a proud and patriotic American from New Hampshire can wear the Canadian Flag proudly – so should we!


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