We asked prominent Canadians what the maple leaf flag means to them. this is what they said

“May the land over which this new flag flies stand united in freedom and justice; a land of decent, God-fearing people; just and generous in all his dealings; sensitive, tolerant and compassionate towards all men”. —Lester B. Pearson

The former prime minister of Canada no doubt had high hopes for the country’s new insignia, as it was formally adopted in 1965.

The red maple leaf and its white and red background marked a starting point for a nation seeking to step out of the shadow of Great Britain and its Union Jack, including the Canadian Red Ensign. The symbol was controversial from its inception, with some balking at the idea that a Canadian flag would not incorporate some British element.

Today, the controversy over Canada’s national identity continues for different reasons that, however, touch on the issues of freedom, justice and equity that Pearson spoke of.

As Steve McKinley of the Star writes, there’s a tug-of-war at the heart of this country, and Maple Leaf is at the center of it all.

The Star asked a number of prominent Canadians and writers to put into words what they think the flag symbolizes, at a time when this country is taking faltering steps toward reconciliation, facing the kind of fierce polarization displayed by “freedom convoys.” “and how nation-building myths are being thoroughly re-examined.

* There are, in the eyes of Haroon Siddiqui, many reasons to find hope in this great experiment we call Canada. Read your opinion here.

* Recent Canadian “Jeopardy!” champion Mattea Roach takes a darker view, writing that the Canada we live in is a far cry from the mythical nation she was raised to believe in. Your piece is here.

* For someone whose homeland is ravaged by war, writes Maria Reva, Canada’s flag evokes a culture and its subtle refusal to share suffering that seems far away. This is your view.

* There has been, indeed, a blank canvas quality to our flag that has allowed it to stand for many things, writes John Ralston Saul. The truckers of the “freedom convoy” took advantage of that. Your essay is here.

* But even if those truckers wrap themselves in the Canadian flag, writes author Stephen March, their anger does not entitle them to our country’s symbol. Here is your evaluation.

* To the mind of George Elliott Clarke, the dark history of the Canadian state, some of which is only now coming to light, reminds us that nationalist icons like the flag don’t move many of us. These are your thoughts.

*Kimberly Murray, the special interlocutor for residential school graves, says that for her, the flag represents an opportunity to confront Canada’s past, including the grim discoveries, and make a meaningful change. Read his point of view here.

* How do you reconcile the hate that flowed under the maple leaf with the inspiring indigenous and non-indigenous peoples who have shaped this country? is a question explored by poet laureate Albert Dumont. His heartwarming take is here.

*As the child of immigrants, you grow up with the Canadian myth your parents believe, or choose to believe, writes author Junie Désil, before discovering the truth for yourself. She details her experience here.

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