The Assembly of First Nations says it has found a solution that would allow the Canadian flag to be raised before Remembrance Day while continuing to grieve Indigenous children who died at residential schools.
The assembly’s executive passed a motion on Thursday calling for the flag to be raised on all federal buildings on Sunday, alongside an orange “every child matters” flag.
In a statement, the assembly says it sees the need to honour veterans by lowering the flag on Nov. 11 and it also wants the flag lowered on Monday to recognize Indigenous Veterans Day.
The assembly wants the orange flag to fly alongside the Canadian flag until all children are recovered, named and returned to their homelands — physically or symbolically — with proper ceremony.
RoseAnne Archibald, the national chief, said the assembly 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 Nov. 11.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asked for the flag to be lowered in May after the discovery of what are believed to be hundreds of unmarked graves at the site of a former residential school in Kamloops, B.C.
The government has been consulting with Indigenous groups about raising the flag ahead of Remembrance Day, when it is traditionally lowered to half-mast.
Marc Miller, minister for Crown-Indigenous relations, said Thursday there is “not a clear consensus” on what should happen and that some want the flag to remain lowered “until every site is searched.”
“Others have a preference for bringing it up. And there’s, within that spectrum, a variety of views on it. What is clear is that this is a very important symbolic act,” he said in an interview.
The flag will be lowered at the National War Memorial on Nov. 11 by the Royal Canadian Legion, which is in charge of the site on Remembrance Day. It has recommended that Legion branches throughout Canada lower the flag at branches and cenotaphs to honour the country’s war dead.
—Marie Woolf, The Canadian Press