While much of the debate around the Parents' Bill of Rights this week focused on pronoun use in schools, the bill also requires schools to display the Saskatchewan flag.
The Saskatchewan government passed Bill 137 Friday, requiring children under 16 to have parental consent to use a different gender-related name or pronoun at school.
The bill, which amends the Education Act, also has a provision requiring the provincial flag be displayed alongside the Canadian flag inside and outside of school.
The display of the national flag is already a requirement for schools in the province.
While NDP education critic Matt Love referred to the Saskatchewan flag as the pinnacle of provincial flags, on Thursday he characterized that particular clause in the bill as "odd."
Given both the provincial and national flags require their own flagpole, Love asked Education Minister Jeremy Cockrill how many of the 625 publicly funded schools would need additional flagpoles and how much that would cost.
Cockrill said Thursday the government has been doing preliminary cost calculations, but said it would work with school divisions to learn what they had in what he called their "flagpole inventory."
Saskatchewan Education Minister Jeremy Cockrill said the province will work with schools to implement the new amendment to the Education Act. (CBC / Radio-Canada)
"We feel it's important that students grow up and not only are they proud of the country they live in, but also the province they live in … gaining an appreciation for the special flag that we have in this province is certainly part of that," Cockrill said.
Cockrill said there is already a requirement for Alberta to display the provincial flag. Provinces including British Columbia and New Brunswick also already have requirements for schools to display the national and provincial flags.
"It matches, I think, what we see in a number of provinces where provincial governments are trying to create kind of a common sense of identity in the province," said Daniel Westlake, an assistant professor of political studies at the University of Saskatchewan.
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Westlake said while he cannot read the minds of the provincial government, his instincts tell him that displaying the provincial flag is a strategy to strengthen provincial identity, which could help the provincial government in cases where Saskatchewan contends with the federal government, as it has in the past with natural resources.
He said while the flag alone likely won't sway a change in identity, policy that follows behind the flag requirement to emphasize provincial pride could help solidify provincial identity in Saskatchewan residents.
Westlake also said a political identity is part of a strong country because it leads people to make sacrifices for the good of the nation, and expects that belief can spur provincial residents to do the same for the province.