My article about the first raising of our beautiful national flag appeared in today's issue of The Niagara Advance. There's a nice photo, and a little write up about our NOTL Writing Circle and our plan to write articles for the paper on a regular basis on the Canadian Spirit. It's Canada's 150th Birthday!
I've attached the address at the top.
But, you can also read the story right here:
One cold wintry day - February 15th, 1965, we stood at the front of our school and watched as the old flag was taken down and a new flag – the iconic red maple leaf was hoisted. We cheered and clapped as the flag caught the wind and fluttered high in the bright blue sky.
The boy with the honour of hoisting the flag struggled to cross the slippery sidewalk. Someone helped him over the ice. He wore braces on each leg, and when he spoke, his words were slow and sometimes hard to understand. He’d been chosen because of his outstanding citizenship. I watched in awe.
Across the country, there was controversy about changing the flag. The media coverage shared the parliamentary debate between Prime Minister Pearson, who supported the change, and John Diefenbaker, leader of the opposition, who was strongly opposed. Canada’s flag had already undergone several changes. Beginning in 1870 the Red Ensign was used – a composite of the Union Jack and the Canadian Coat of Arms on a red background – but never made ‘official’. As Canada’s Centennial approached in 1967, a movement began to promote national unity and the Canadian identity.
My dad was one of the people who’d felt that Canada should shed its Colonial background and needed a unique flag. He’d supported a proposed flag with blue borders and three conjoined red maple leaves on a white background designed by artist Alan Beddoe. This ‘from sea to sea’ concept had mixed support. Dad thought this would be the flag that would be chosen and purchased some. We displayed two on the hood of our car.
One warm summer evening, we’d stopped at Avondale Dairy on Stewart Road for ice cream. When we came out of the store, our car was surrounded by an angry group of people protesting our display of the flag. They shouted that the old flag was good enough, and that we were traitors to our country. My little sister started to cry.
Dad was a WW2 vet, and not afraid to defend his ideas. He loved his country and valued the attributes that are integral to Canadian society. He stood his ground, and politely shared his opinion. The people moved away peacefully and we ate our melting ice cream. But I was worried. What if the flag changed and people continued to say they hated it and still wanted the old one?
On that cold February day, 52 years ago, I cried when our beautiful new flag was hoisted. We proudly flew the new flag from the flagpole at home, and dad often wore the little flag pin he treasured.
Now, Canada has achieved its 150th birthday and our flag is recognized worldwide. We are known as a country that is diverse, inclusive and respectful. Our problems are solved by discussion and debate. We move forward and change with the times.
I’ve never forgotten the triumphant first raising of the Canadian Flag, and cherish its symbol of our country.
Hope you enjoyed the story!
We drove to Niagara Falls last night to see one of this year's movies nominated for Best Pictures at the annual Oscars awards. I'd seen a trailer for this movie while waiting to see Hidden Figures. It looked intriguing and quite unlike the typical Hollywood release.
It's based on a true story - the book A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley. Brierley's story moves from his life as a young boy living with his mother, brother and sister under difficult circumstances in India to a very different life with a new family in Australia. Without giving away too much, Saroo becomes a lost boy - in a dangerous environment, yet manages to survive. The film footage of life for street kids in Calcutta is a stunning insight into a harsh environment that is a reality for thousands of lost children.
As an adult with compassionate parents, Saroo begins a search to find his way back home, and the family that he has left behind. I was mesmerized by the early part of the movie where the young Saroo (Sunny Pawar) struggles to find his way in an alien environment. Mid movie, things slow down a bit as Saroo begins a complicated relationship with his girlfriend. This section seemed awkward and messy. Brierley has stated that he didn't really have one special girlfriend, rather a series of relationships. Perhaps that's why this love theme never really worked for me.
But the movie lifts itself out of the angst and roars rapidly towards a stunning ending. It's won a variety of film awards already and is nominated for 6 Oscars: Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Cinematography.
I couldn't stop thinking about the images, characters and situation afterwards. In a time where it's more important than ever for us to seek to understand others and learn about the world around us, the Lion teaches valuable lessons. One of my favourites this year for sure!
Sharon Frayne is a writer and artist. She is a member of the Canadian Author's Association, the Niagara Writer's Circle and the Pumphouse Art Gallery. She looks for the universal experience and the mystery in everyday things.