Skip to main content

Flags on federal buildings to be raised before and after Remembrance Day


The federal government will raise and re-lower the Canadian flags on federal buildings and atop the peace tower for Indigenous Veterans Day and Remembrance Day next week, but then the flags will return to full-mast.

The plan, announced on Friday, includes an intention to lower Canadian flags to half-mast annually on Sept. 30 for the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. The government says it is also working to find a “suitable” place in the parliamentary precinct to raise the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation’s “Survivors Flag.”

On Nov. 7, the Canadian flags currently at half-mast in recognition of the victims and survivors of Canada’s residential school system will return to full-mast during sunset, and then be lowered on Nov. 8 for Indigenous Veterans Day. The flags will then be raised and lowered again for Nov. 11.

“Raising the flag at this time will allow us to honour and remember important moments in Canada’s history,” reads a joint Canadian Heritage and Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canadas statement, citing “many discussions” between Indigenous partners and the government.

In an interview on CTV News Channel’s Power Play, Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Marc Miller said the decision “certainly wasn’t an easy one.”

He said after the flags were lowered this spring, the process to discuss lifting them began recently and included the government hearing differing opinions about what they should do.

“There were different and varying ranges of perspectives, some ranging from ‘leave the flags down until everything is found and in the light of day, and children returned home to their communities,’ and others saying that it was time now to lift them. But what we heard resoundingly, and no one expected a consensus, was that this was a responsibility of the federal government to take a decision and this was the time to do it,” Miller said.

Ahead of the announcement, Assembly of First Nations National Chief RoseAnne Archibald issued a statement calling on the government to raise orange “every child matters” flags alongside the Canadian flag, “until all of our children are recovered, named, and symbolically or physically returned to their homelands with proper ceremony.”

She said that the AFN was “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.”

Asked why the AFN’s calls have not been heeded, Miller said that the government was made aware of their position “late last night,” and said the government remains open to a range of options going forward, suggesting future flag-lowering could be considered on a “case by case” basis.

“Canadians have to be braced for the fact that there will be further discoveries, and there will be a need to symbolically recognize that as well as continuing to work on the discoveries and getting to the truth of all this,” Miller said.

Current federal flag protocols state that “the National Flag of Canada should always be flown on its own mast or flag pole; flag protocol states that it is improper to fly two or more flags on the same mast or flag pole (for example, one beneath the other).”

The flags have remained at half-mast since May 30, following the first discoveries of unmarked graves at a former residential school site in Kamloops, B.C.

In the months that have followed the discovery of what is believed to be the remains of 215 children, discoveries of hundreds of unmarked graves at other former residential school sites have continued, including the discovery of 751 graves at Cowessess First Nation in Saskatchewan, near the former Marieval Indian Residential School.

"There's a reason why we're discussing this Friday at four o'clock which is typically the time the government doesn't want us to pay attention, because they really want this issue to kind of very quietly go away," Niigaan Sinclair, an associate professor at the University of Manitoba, said later Friday on CTV News Channel's Power Play.

"But at the same time, they also did some measures that I think are important and are worth giving a bit of credit for, because at the end of the day we shouldn't be talking about flags but tangible actions to recognize, find these children, who they are at these sites, find the records and then most of all help the communities heal."

The government's position leading up to Remembrance Day has been that until further notice, the flags would remain at half-mast in honour of the victims and survivors of the Canadian residential school system 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,” said the government’s statement.

The statement also notes an intention to “advance work” towards installing a national monument in Ottawa to honour residential school survivors and the children who did not return home, which was the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 81st of 94 calls to action.

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole has been calling for the flags to be raised since the federal election campaign. In a statement he said that “symbolic acts are not a substitute for concrete action on reconciliation.”

“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,” O’Toole said.

In a statement, NDP MP and critic for Indigenous relations Lori Idlout said that the party was glad to see the government will be raising the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation’s “Survivors Flag.”

“A flag is an important symbol of nationhood. Lowering it for important occasions is a sign of respect for those lives lost,” she said. “Moving forward we must ensure that all Indigenous voices are heard on this issue and that First Nations, Inuit, and Metis voices are all contributing to the healing process.”

With files from Michael Lee Top Stories

Here are the factors experts say are contributing to Canada's drug shortages

Experts say drug shortages have gradually worsened in Canada over the last decade, putting patients in difficult and sometimes dangerous positions. But potential solutions like rethinking where drug manufacturing is concentrated and expanding pharmacists' prescribing privileges could help ease those impacts.



W5 George Chuvalo: the boxer nobody could knock down

Canadian boxing great George Chuvalo went blow-for-blow with legends, but it came at a cost. W5's Sandie Rinaldo speaks with Chuvalo's children about the damage that 93 fights did to their father's cognitive health. 'Boom Boom Chuvalo' airs Friday at 10/9 on CTV.

Stay Connected