HALIFAX—A group of Nova Scotia residents is calling for all levels of government to take action to ban the use or display of the Confederate battle flag across Canada.
Nova Scotian Citizens Against White Supremacy said at an event Wednesday, July 29, that displaying the Confederate flag publicly should be considered a hate crime. The group has started a petition that calls for a government ban on public displays of the flag.
Social activist and event organizer Lynn Jones said she was shocked to see a Confederate flag painted on a pickup truck recently in her hometown of Truro, N.S.
“It wasn’t just a flag around the truck—the truck was painted with the Confederate flag,” said Jones at the Cornwallis Street Baptist Church. “I thought, this is really, really scary. I was afraid.”
The group said it recognizes that achieving a country-wide ban on the flag would be difficult, but added that Wednesday’s rally was also about educating the public about the flag’s racist connotations.
Dalhousie University history professor and social activist Isaac Saney said it’s important for people to know and understand the history of the flag, flown by Confederate troops in the field during the American Civil War.
“It is a universal symbol of racism. That is without doubt and I think that there is no place for hate symbols, for symbols of white supremacy, in Canada,” Saney told the rally.
The killing of nine people at a black church in South Carolina last month prompted a fresh debate in the U.S. over the flag, prompting state legislators to vote to remove it from government grounds.
Many Canadian retailers pulled the flag off their shelves following the shooting at the Charleston church.
Nova Scotia has a sizable population of black residents whose ancestors fled slavery in the southern United States in the 18th and 19th centuries. The province has a history of racial tension.