Update: A joint news release from Heritage Canada and Crown-Indigenous Relations was sent out Friday afternoon. It says in part:
The executive committee of the Assembly of First Nations along with AFN Knowledge Keepers have passed a motion that “provides our solution towards raising the half-mast flag while continuing to grieve the genocide of Indigenous children and honour all Veterans.”
A release sent out Friday from the office of National Chief RoseAnne Archibald is asking for a compromise to the lowered Canadian flag, which has been flying at half-mast since the end of May when Tk’emlups te Secwepemc Nation announced the confirmation of unmarked graves on the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School, and how to raise it again.
“We call for the federal government to raise the Canadian flag and to attach the ‘Every Child Matters’ orange flag to the Peace Tower and on all federal buildings starting November 7, 2021,” said Archibald in the statement. “Secondly, we call for the lowering of the flags to half-mast on November 8, 2021, in honour of Indigenous Veterans Day.
“We are 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, 2021.”
PM says Indigenous talks may offer ‘solution’ so Canada can honour war dead
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he is confident a “solution” will be reached to allow Canada to honour its war dead on Remembrance Day by lowering the flag to half-mast.
Trudeau gave his strongest indication yet on Tuesday that the national flag could be raised and then lowered again at federal buildings on Remembrance Day.
Speaking at a news conference during climate talks in Glasgow, the prime minister said the government is working closely with Indigenous groups to find ways to lower the flag to half-mast on Nov. 11.
Traditionally the flag is lowered on Remembrance Day to pay tribute to veterans and Canada’s war dead.
Trudeau requested the lowering of the national flags after the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc Nation announced ground-penetrating radar detected what are believed to be the remains of 215 Indigenous children at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in B.C.
Weeks later, the Cowessess First Nation near Regina revealed it found 751 unmarked graves, prompting Indigenous leaders and many non-Indigenous Canadians to redouble their calls for Ottawa to help deliver justice for residential school survivors.
Trudeau has suggested it would be up to Indigenous Peoples to determine when to hoist it again.
He said Tuesday that talks with Indigenous leaders and communities about the issue are ongoing and that he is optimistic about reaching the “right solution.”
“There is an understanding of how important it is to be able to lower the flags on Remembrance Day to mark our veterans, to mark people _ including Indigenous Peoples _ who have stepped up to fight for Canadian values and paid the ultimate sacrifice,” he said.
“I am confident that the conversations with Indigenous leadership on making sure we lower the flag once again on Nov. 11 will come to the right solution.”
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said residential school survivors should play a key part in deciding whether to raise the flag.
“We need to respect the residential school survivor movement,” he said. “Whatever consensus they reach should be respected.”
Lynne Groulx, the CEO of the Native Women’s Association of Canada, said: “We must respect the veterans, many of whom were Indigenous. We must find a way to honour them appropriately on Remembrance Day with traditional flag-related ceremonies.
“But a solution must be found in which the children who perished at residential schools are also honoured and respected.”
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole, who served in the air force before entering politics, has spent the past few days calling for the flag to be raised before Nov.11, criticizing Trudeau for having no apparent plan to do so.
“Our flag has been at half-mast for over five months,” he said in video released on social media Tuesday.
“It was appropriate to lower it to acknowledge the pain and sorrow of our history with residential schools, but it was inappropriate to keep it down indefinitely.”
The Royal Canadian Legion has said it plans to hoist the flag then lower it at the National War Memorial in Ottawa on Nov. 11. The Legion is in charge of what happens at the memorial on Remembrance Day.
It has recommended that Legion branches also hoist and lower the flag at services at cenotaphs across the country.
A two-minute silence at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11 _ marking the time and date of the armistice at the end of the First World War _ will accompany the lowering of the flag, along with the laying of wreaths and the Last Post bugle call.
Spectators, wearing masks and distancing, will be able to attend the ceremony in Ottawa.
According to the AFN, “the federal government can take concrete action on Truth and Reconciliation by entering into a TRC Calls: Joint Action Plan with the AFN to ensure that we accelerate the implementation of all 94 TRC Calls to Action with an immediate focus on calls #53, #54, #55, and #56.”
Not everyone thinks that lowering the flags was a good idea in the first place. Melissa Mbarki is one of them. She’s a policy analyst from the Laurier Institute and joined APTN National News host Dennis Ward to talk about her issues.
With files from the Canadian Press