Canadian flags will be raised at federal buildings and at the Peace Tower in Ottawa on Nov. 7, so they can be lowered in honour of veterans on Remembrance Day, the government says.
“Raising the flag at this time will allow us to honour and remember important moments in Canada’s history,” said a joint statement from Canadian Heritage and Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada on Nov. 5.
The flags had been lowered in May in recognition of the discovery of unmarked graves at the site of a former residential school in Kamloops, B.C.
Following Remembrance Day ceremonies, the government said the flags will remain at full-mast. They will be lowered to half-mast to mark the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation every year on Sept. 30.
Besides Nov. 11, when the flags are traditionally lowered to honour Canada’s veterans, they will also be lowered on Nov. 8 to mark Indigenous Veterans Day. They will again be raised on the same day at sunset.
The government’s statement says the flags have “remained at half-mast in memory of the Indigenous children who were sent to residential schools, for those who never returned home and in honour of the families whose lives were forever changed.”
“As the paramount symbol of our nation, the act of flying the national flag of Canada at half-mast for the longest period of time in Canada’s history speaks to the extraordinary sense of loss.”
The Liberal government had been criticized by the opposition Tories for keeping the flag at half-mast.
“Canada’s flag is our most important national symbol, which represents not only our dream for a better country, but our past. That’s why Canada’s Conservatives have been calling for the flag to be raised today, with the start of Remembrance Week,” Conservative Party Leader Erin O’Toole said in a statement on Nov. 5.
“It was appropriate to lower the flag to recognize our tragic history of residential schools and the unspeakable trauma it has caused for generations of Indigenous peoples in Canada. What was not appropriate, was Justin Trudeau’s decision to lower the flag without some form of protocol or plan to restore Canada’s flag back to its rightful place.”
Earlier on Nov. 5, the Assembly of First Nations said that it wants an orange “every child matters” flag to be raised alongside the national flag on federal buildings.
National Chief RoseAnne Archibald said the AFN is “in agreement that the flag must be raised before Remembrance Day so that all veterans will be honoured when lowered to half-mast on Nov. 11.” The assembly also said it supports the flags being lowered on Nov. 8 to mark Indigenous Veterans Day.
With files from The Canadian Press