Don't be afraid to fly the flag this Canada Day | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source
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Don't be afraid to fly the flag this Canada Day

Image Credit: Pexels/Alesia Kozik

This Canada Day holiday is sparking cries to reclaim the Canadian flag from the so-called “freedom movement" that occupied Ottawa last winter and continues to parade and demonstrate throughout the country.

Many people don’t want to fly the flag out of fear they will be hassled because some will see them as part of that group.

“We will not let a small group of people who spew far-right rhetoric claim the Canadian flag as theirs,” says a letter to Kelowna media attributed to Lisa Porcellato. “You will not have our flag. We will challenge you and it starts with taking back our flag.”

While the letter was penned by Porcellato, it was actually written by her for Sasha Johnson and a number of others with disabilities who were afraid to fly the flag on their wheelchairs for fear of being harassed.

“I was doing this workshop with people with disabilities and they were all talking about their wheelchairs and they’re scared,” Porcellato told iNFOnews.ca. “They wanted to say something so I just helped them find a voice because I have the ability to type and send things.”

That triggered a backlash for her through her work email.

“They said that I’m an idiot,” Porcellato said. “They said I don’t’ know what I’m talking about, it’s their flag too, they can do whatever they want. I didn’t respond to anybody. I know it’s a waste of time. It will just go back and forth.”

While Porcellato isn’t leading a movement to reclaim the flag, she is helping get a message out.

“Even my mom, whose aging, she’s mentioned it to me,” Porcellato. “She’s sad the flag is being used this way.”

Similar sentiments were expressed by Marie-Paule Lacasse of Sicamous in a letter to her local newspaper.

“Most Canadians felt both sadness and disgust towards the disrespectful use of our cherished Canadian flag,” she wrote. “Consequently, even to this day, many folks are still hesitant to personally display a Canadian flag on their vehicle, for example, fearing that it might be viewed as a protest symbol rather than one of pride.”

That was exactly what happened to Alvin Moie of Penticton. He got a nasty note on his windshield in March for having a Canadian flag on his vehicle, something he’s carried there for the past decade.

"Your automobile 'decorating' (and) street corner protests exhibit a general lack of facts, a gullibility, an immaturity, and an inability to sift through information effectively that results in a never-ending display of negativity and self-pity,” the note, which Moie referred to as ‘crap,’ said, in part. “If this is the highlight of your life so far, then I truly pity you."

READ MORE: Penticton man against trucker protests gets nasty note for flying Canadian flag

Even in Falkland, possibly the flag capital of Canada, there’s been some who have associated them, wrongly, with the freedom movement.

“I haven’t personally had anyone complain about flags being everywhere but you do get the odd person who comments,” Sabrina Ujma, president of the Falkland Community Association and owner of Okanagan Marketplace, told iNFOnews.ca. “We’ve always had a flag on our beef jerky that we sell with a little logo. Someone said: ‘Do you do this for the movement?’ No. Have you ever heard of Falkland?”

Flying the flag is a big deal in Falkland.

It has one of the largest flags in the country (28 feet by 56 feet) perched on Gyp Mountain, 500 feet above the village. It’s been there since the early 1990s, inspired by Fran Nikon and her “I Care Canada” campaign.

Nikon died in 2015 but the flag is still illuminated at night. Most residents fly the flag for rodeo weekend on the May long weekend (one of the oldest in the country) and the highway through town, along with most homes and businesses, is adorned with flags for Canada Day.

They usually stay up all summer, Ujma said.

“It’s something we’ve done for years and years and years,” she said. “It’s not going to change because, all of a sudden, it’s become a symbol. It’s always been a symbol. A symbol of the country.”

Rene Talbot, the regional district director for the community and a resident of Falkland, used stronger words to express his opinion of the freedom movement’s use of the Canadian flag.

“Personally I think it’s a joke,” he told iNFOnews.ca. “I’m a proud Canadian. I don’t think riding around the country with a flag on my truck or my car is going to do anything. If you want change, you go to polls and vote them out.”

READ MORE: Ottawa residents, police brace for protests on Canada Day

A Reddit post out of Kelowna posed the question: “Is it safe to hang a Canadian flag in my yard for Canada Day, or will it be assumed I'm a ‘freedom fighter’ if I do?"

In less than a day, it drew 80 responses showing overwhelming support for flying the flag.

“Let’s simply overthrow that tainted message and regain the proper usage of our flag,” Lacasse wrote in her letter. “This Canada Day, July 1, calls for a thunderous show of appreciation for the country we live in. Get out there, display lots and lots of flags big and small: maple leaf hats, shirts, stickers, etc.”


To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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