As we approach Canada Day - and the prospect of the return of "freedom" protests in Ottawa - let's consider the meaning and symbolism of the Canadian flag.
After weeks of the so-called freedom convoy last winter, many of us took a hard look at the symbolism of the Canadian flag and its recent association with white supremacy. Some felt a new fear or anger at what they feel the flag represents.
But other communities have always felt this way about the Canadian flag.
After unmarked graves were found at the sites of former residential schools, the Canadian flag was flown at half-mast in many places to show shame for our collective history and solidarity with Indigenous communities. And last year on Canada Day, many called for people to wear orange instead of red and white.
Other movements like Landback, Resistance150, Idle No More, Pride and Black Lives Matter have also raised awareness about challenges to Canadian nationalism and belonging.
Both of our guests on this episode of Don't Call Me Resilient have studied multiculturalism, citizenship and belonging. Daniel McNeil looks at history and culture and the complexities of global Black communities. He is a professor and national scholar 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.
Symbols can and do change
In our conversation, Daniel McNeil said:
Lucy El-Sherif said:
For a lot of people, the Canadian flag is a symbol to be proud of: it's something they feel represents Canada's multiculturalism, the idea that the country can welcome anyone. They want to fly the flag - whether at a Raptors game, World Cup match or rally.
Some writers of op-eds have pleaded audiences to fly the flag this year, to take back a symbol they feel proud of.
As McNeil said, Canada is defined as:
Articles from The Conversation
- The Canadian flag and the 'freedom convoy': The co-opting of Canadian symbols by Heather Nicol
- Canada needs a new citizenship oath: OISE expert by Lucy El-Sherif
- 'O Canada': Why I no longer stand for the national anthem by Jason Laurendeau
- This Canada Day, settler Canadians should think about land back by Kaitie Jourdeuil
- Raptors victory: Feel-good multiculturalism masks reality of anti-Black racism in Canada
- Red Skin, White Masks by Glen Sean Coulthard
- Dear Science and Other Stories by Katherine McKittrick
- "Why did Masuma Khan's post invite censure from Dalhousie if free speech is so vaunted?" by Shree Paradkar
- Black Faith and Anti-Black Racism by Lewis R. Gordon
- "Let America Be America Again" by Langston Hughes
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Don't Call Me Resilient is produced and hosted by Vinita Srivastava. Series co-producers are: Lygia Navarro and Haley Lewis. Vaishnavi Dandekar is an assistant producer. Jennifer Moroz is our consulting producer. Lisa Varano is our audience development editor and Scott White is the CEO of The Conversation Canada. Don't Call Me Resilient is a production of The Conversation Canada. This podcast was produced with a grant for Journalism Innovation from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.
For an unedited transcript, go here.
Thank you to the following sources for additional sound:
- Canada 150 protest
- Citizenship Oath
- Convoy honking trucks
- Black Lives Matter rally in Kennebunk, Maine, on June 3, 2020
- Rosemary Brown speech, CBC
Authors: Vinita Srivastava - Host + Producer, Don't Call Me Resilient | Senior Editor, Culture + Society | Daniel McNeil - Department of Gender Studies and the Queen's National Scholar Chair in Black Studies., Queen's University, Ontario | Lucy El-Sherif - PhD candidate, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto