An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
THE CANADIAN FLAG belongs to all Canadians. I get it.
So if truckers want to wave the Maple Leaf at their convoy protest — and thousands of them are doing just that — then they have a right to do it. It’s their flag, after all, as Canadians.
If they desecrate the flag with swastikas and other graffiti, well, that’s rude and inappropriate. But legal. You can stomp on it and burn it, and that’s freedom of expression.
So, OK, truckers, you aren’t going to land in court for abusing the flag. But your attempt to co-opt Orange Shirt Day is not OK.
If you’ve forgotten, wearing orange T-shirts originated with residential school survivors. Phyllis Webstad was given an orange shirt by her grandmother to wear for her first day of school at St. Joseph’s residential school in Williams Lake.
When she arrived at the school, it was taken away from her. That became the inspiration for Orange Shirt Day and the official National Day for Truth and Reconciliation that was celebrated across the country for the first time last Sept. 30.
The convoy protesters, missing no new opportunity to offend, figured it would be a wonderful idea to tag onto the orange shirt symbol for their own purposes, proposing their own Orange Shirt Day.
“Every child matters, baby!” declared one of the prominent protesters.
OK, maybe this is just another one of those silly and offensive ideas that doesn’t reflect what the convoy is all about. But it came from a lead convoy organizer.
Nobody, of course, owns the colour orange. It belongs to everyone as much as the Canadian flag does. But, at this point in history, it belongs the most to residential school survivors and the missing kids. Trying to grab it for a protest that has nothing to do with that issue is opportunistic and kind of disgusting.
Leave it alone and stick to the Maple Leaf.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.