The national flag at the Peace Tower in Ottawa and at all federal government buildings will be raised Sunday, the Liberal government says, months after they were lowered to honour former residential-school students.
However, the flags will be lowered at sunrise on Nov. 8, for Indigenous Veterans Day, and then raised at sunset.
They will then be lowered again to mark Remembrance Day on Nov. 11, before returning to full-mast.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, at the end of May, said the flags would fly at half-mast until further notice to honour the children who died at the former Kamloops residential school, as well as residential-school survivors and families.
Three federal departments – Canadian Heritage, Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada – issued a statement on Friday on the flag issue. “Raising the flag at this time will allow us to honour and remember important moments in Canada’s history.”
“Many discussions were held between Indigenous partners and the Government of Canada to seek guidance on how best to honour the victims of residential schools and ensure they are never forgotten in the future.”
The statement said that in coming years the national flag will be lowered to mark the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation every Sept. 30.
The government also committed to fly the Survivor’s Flag of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation at a suitable location in the parliamentary precinct, with the centre’s permission.
In a statement, RoseAnne Archibald, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, said 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 November 11.”
Her statement also said that the federal government should attach the Every Child Matters orange flag to the Peace Tower and on all federal buildings starting Sunday.
The Every Child Matters flag should continue flying until “all of our children are recovered, named, symbolically or physically returned to their homelands with proper ceremony,” she said.
And she called on Ottawa to take “concrete action” by entering into a joint action plan with the AFN to ensure the accelerated implementation of all 94 Truth and Reconciliation Commission calls to action.
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole said Friday that it was appropriate to lower the flag to recognize the history of residential schools and the “unspeakable trauma” it has caused 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,” he said in a statement.
Lori Idlout, the NDP critic for Indigenous relations, said she was pleased by the government decision on flags for Remembrance Day and Indigenous Veterans Day.
“Moving forward, we must ensure that all Indigenous voices are heard on this issue and that First Nations, Inuit and Métis voices are all contributing to the healing process,” she said in a statement.
With a report from The Canadian Press
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