Should Montreal's flag be modified to reflect city's indigenous roots?
The flag of Montreal is expected to get a facelift to better represent the city’s indigenous origins.
Mayor Denis Coderre wants to take advantage of the city’s 375th anniversary to modify the flag, creating a design that will recognize the city’s indigenous roots and contribution to its history.
"I think it's a matter of recognition, okay? The fact that we're always talking about the founders, we have to remember that we're on Mohawk territory and the First Nations were there," said Coderre.
Designed in 1939, the flag of Montreal is based on the city’s coat of arms, which was created in 1833.
The goal at the time was to represent the city’s ‘founding people,’ but it omitted the fact that indigenous people occupied the land as far back as 4,000 years ago and were displaced 185 years ago.
The current flag features the symbols of the so-called ‘founding peoples’: the fleur-de-lys for the French, the Rose of Lancaster for the English, the thistle for the Scots and the shamrock for the Irish.
The red cross in the centre is also meant to represent the fact that Ville-Marie was founded as a Catholic city.
Coderre said adding an element that reflects the First Nations will be a step towards reconciliation.
"Reconciliation doesn't mean to revisit the past, but it means that we recognize what happens in the past, but we have some strong symbol to say that maybe we show that we're for real," said the mayor.
"To carry a flag means a lot."
In Kahnawake, Grand Chief Joe Norton liked the idea.
"I think it takes a very special person to step up to the podium and acknowledge the longstanding relationship and the existence of indigenous peoples in the region here," said Norton.
Norton said he hopes a symbol that reflects the Mohawk community is selected.
"Without creating a stir I would think that because of the closeness of Kahnawake and the Mohawk people... I think it's important, proper, that the Mohawks should have a very proper display," said Norton.
It is so far unclear how the flag will be altered, and even what symbol will be used to represent its indigenous roots.
The date of its unveiling is also so far unknown.