The national flag will be hoisted Sunday at federal buildings across Canada and at the Peace Tower in Ottawa, the government has announced.
The decision to raise the flag follows the longest period in Canada’s history that the flag has flown at half-mast. It was lowered in May in honour of Indigenous children who suffered and died at residential schools.
The flag will be hoisted at sunset on Sunday in time for Remembrance Day next week when it is traditionally lowered to honour Canada’s veterans and war dead.
The flag will also be lowered at sunrise on Monday to mark Indigenous Veterans Day, and raised again that evening at sunset.
The flags were lowered to half-mast on May 30 after the discovery of what are believed to be hundreds of unmarked graves at a former residential school site in Kamloops, B.C.
The government has been in talks with Indigenous leaders and communities about when to raise the flag.
A joint statement from Canadian Heritage, Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada said 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.”
It added that raising the flag “will allow us to honour and remember important moments in Canada’s history.”
In the future, the flag will be lowered to half-mast to mark the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation every Sept. 30, the statement said.
The government is planning a national monument in Ottawa to honour residential school survivors and “all the children who never returned home.” It is also planning to fly the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation’s survivors’ flag on the Parliamentary precinct.
The Assembly of First Nations said earlier Friday, before the government made its announcement, that it wants an orange “every child matters” flag to be raised on federal buildings alongside the national flag.
The national chief wants the orange flag to fly alongside the Canadian flag until all children who died at residential schools are recovered, named and returned to their homelands — physically or symbolically — with proper ceremony.
The assembly’s executive passed a motion on Thursday calling for the flag to be raised on all federal buildings on Sunday alongside the “every child matters” flag.
In a statement, the assembly said it sees the need to honour veterans by lowering the flag on Nov. 11. It also supports the flag being lowered on Monday to recognize Indigenous Veterans Day.
RoseAnne Archibald, the national chief, said the assembly 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.”
Marc Miller, minister for Crown-Indigenous relations, said Thursday there was “not a clear consensus” on what should happen and that some wanted the flag to remain lowered “until every site is searched.”
“Others have a preference for bringing it up. And there’s, within that spectrum, a variety of views on it. What is clear is that this is a very important symbolic act,” he said in an interview with The Canadian Press.
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of B.C. Chiefs, has said he wants the views of residential school survivors to be taken into account.
The flag will be lowered at the National War Memorial on Nov. 11 by the Royal Canadian Legion, which is in charge of the site on Remembrance Day. It has been recommended that Legion branches throughout Canada also lower the flag to honour the country’s war dead.
The Legion has held an official period of solemn national remembrance and said “our First Nations friends” will “always be in our hearts.”
It said Legion branches across Canada had the choice to continue flying their flags at half-mast “in tribute and remembrance.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 5, 2021.