Opinion: The Canadian flag has been tarnished by occupation-style protests — time to take it back

Opinion: The Canadian flag has been tarnished by occupation-style protests — time to take it back
Photo credit: Nicholas Pescod/CHEK News

Jody Vance: The Canadian flag has been tarnished by occupation-style protests — time to take it back.

This opinion piece first appeared in The Orca on March 9, 2022.

What feels like both yesterday and forever ago simultaneously, our flag was a symbol of something good. If you travelled almost anywhere on the planet, being Canadian was currency; synonymous with “kind.”

The maple leaf was the number one choice for backpackers (Canadian or not, I see you America) to sew onto their luggage, to identify you as the good guy. Our maple leaf was a worldwide symbol of Canadian niceness.

Key word — was.

That’s who we were. Or at least, how we saw ourselves.

Fast forward to the first two months of 2022, that proud symbol took a sad turn.

As Will Rogers famously said, “It takes a lifetime to build a good reputation, but you can lose it in a minute.”

One small, loud and often obnoxious, group of Canadians have yanked the coolness rug out from under the other 38 million of us.

In the blink of an eye our global reputation is tarnished, and might never recover fully from the damage of recent events.

I’m the kind who stands for the anthem, and sings (badly), hand over heart and often tearfully. Now when I see the cars, minivans, pickups and big rigs flying our beloved Canadian flag with horns blaring, I well up about how cringeworthy that image is.

Occupations, blockades, noise pollution and in some instances, harassment and criminal assault – this middle is about how sad it was and where it’s left us.

In fact, scratch that, sad doesn’t quite cover it. I know I’m not alone in being downright angry at the damage done. It feels important to go on record to say: That was NOT okay.

Millions and millions of Canadians feel painted with the ugly brush of the few. Embarrassed.

In the weeks since the dissolution of the Ottawa Occupation and the border blockades, those who were so loose with rhetoric of tyranny and being oppressed have had a crash course on what that actually looks like.

Which brings us to the blue and yellow of Ukraine’s flag.

Bravery. Community. Solidarity. With Putin using propaganda to false flag his way into war, it’s fitting we talk truths and flags here.

The calculated spin that saw our nation falter to the point of having to use the Emergencies Act is shameful at best, especially in the shadow of actual war.

Yes, organizers of the convoy’s illegal actions are being held to account via the slow turning wheels of Canadian justice – and this Middle hopes consequences are equal to the damage done. Not just hard costs of disruption and damage, but also bringing shame to us all.

That nightmare in Ottawa is not who we are, and blocking supply chains at major border crossings cultivate neither truth nor freedom. It is chaos, Canadian style.

Pushing back on COVID measures is one thing. Doing so at the detriment of your fellow Canadians is another.

Moving forward from here requires learning lessons like how the few cannot claim to speak for all.

They didn’t, they don’t, and never will.

I’m on Team Canada. This Middle wants to rebuild the Maple Leaf, and make it even stronger. A flag for all Canadians – not just the loudest.

Jody Vance is a born and raised Vancouverite who’s spent 30 years in both local and national media. The first woman in the history of Canadian TV to host her own sports show in primetime, since 2011 she’s been working in both TV and radio covering news and current affairs.

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