Trudeau 'confident' flags can be raised by Remembrance Day

·3 min read
Trudeau 'confident' flags can be raised by Remembrance Day
Canada flags continue to fly at half-mast in Ottawa after the discovery of gravesites at former residential schools. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he is 'confident' the flags can be raised in time for Remembrance Day ceremonies. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press - image credit)
Canada flags continue to fly at half-mast in Ottawa after the discovery of gravesites at former residential schools. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he is 'confident' the flags can be raised in time for Remembrance Day ceremonies. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press - image credit)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says his government is in discussions with Indigenous leaders across the country and is confident that flags on government buildings can be raised in time to be lowered for Remembrance Day.

Speaking in Glasgow, where he is attending the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) , Trudeau said his government is working very closely with Indigenous communities and leaders as Nov. 11 approaches.

"There is an understanding of how important it is to be able to lower the flags on Remembrance Day to mark our veterans, to mark people, including Indigenous Peoples who've stepped up to fight for Canadian values and paid the ultimate sacrifice," Trudeau said.

"I'm confident that the conversations with Indigenous leadership on making sure we are able to lower the flags once again on Nov. 11 will come at the right solution," he said.

The flags on all federal buildings were lowered on May 30 following the discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves at the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia.

In September, Trudeau said he plans to keep the flags at half-mast in honour of the residential school students who never came home, until Indigenous communities and their leaders decide it's appropriate to raise them again.

"I think Canadians have seen with horror those unmarked graves across the country and realize that what happened decades ago isn't part of our history. It is an irrefutable part of our present," Trudeau said at the time.

Remembering the children

Cassidy Caron, president of the Métis National Council, told CBC News in an email that she understands the federal government uses the lowering of flags to observe and remember many important issues.

She said that what is most important to her and to the Métis Nation is keeping the children's memories alive and that she is open to other ways to ensure that happens.

"What's most important is that Canadians never forget about this country's residential school history, the thousands of stolen children who never returned home, and the ongoing effects of intergenerational trauma," Caron said.

Watch: Trudeau comments on Canadian flag protocols for Remembrance Day:

She challenged "our federal colleagues to propose new and more permanent ways that they can work alongside Métis, Inuit and First Nations to ensure that all Canadians understand this country's residential school history and that no Canadian ever forgets."

The Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami declined to comment. The Assembly of First Nations said it was meeting to discuss the issue and would have more to say later in the week.

Flags at National War Memorial will start Nov. 11 fully hoisted

The Royal Canadian Legion says it has recommended to its branches that they begin their Remembrance Day ceremonies with their flags fully hoisted.

Nujma Bond, manager of communications for the Royal Canadian Legion, which is in charge of protocol at the National War Memorial in Ottawa, said that the morning of Nov. 11 the flags over the cenotaph will be fully masted.

"They will be lowered during the ceremony and at the end of the day, at sunset, the flags will be respectfully removed and they will be presented to the National Silver Cross Mother, which is tradition every year," Bond said.

The legion-run ceremony will, as in past years, feature the reading of the act of remembrance in an Indigenous language with Indigenous veterans present and taking part in the ceremony.

"We are very respectful of both the government of Canada's decisions and also of the fact that we do have an inclusive ceremony every year at the National War Memorial," Bond said.

Caron said she supports the move to raise flags at the National War Memorial on Remembrance Day in order to lower them, but that support does not extend to federal buildings.

"The government of Canada must now carry the responsibility of ensuring that Canadians never forget about this country's residential school legacy and about the thousands of stolen Indigenous children who never returned home."

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