The Department of Canadian Heritage says the national flag will remain at half-mast leading up to Remembrance Day instead of hoisting it up to be lowered again.
The flag has been flying at half-mast at federal buildings since late May, when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asked for it to be lowered after Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc nation announced that ground-penetrating radar had located what are believed to be the remains of 215 children in unmarked graves at the site of a former residential school in Kamloops, B.C.
That news, followed by similar findings by others including 751 unmarked graves found by Cowessess First Nation in Saskatchewan, sent waves of shock and grief across the country.
Canadian Heritage says the flags at government buildings and the Peace Tower remain lowered in memory of Indigenous children who died attending residential schools, as well as survivors and their families.
The department posts notices every time the flag is half-masted and the current one says it will stay that way until “further notice.”
It says the decision about when to raise up flag lies with Trudeau.
The prime minister says he plans to keep it lowered until Indigenous Peoples want to see Canada’s flag flying fully hoisted.
The issue is gaining renewed attention in light of the coming Remembrance Day, when half-masting the flag at the National War Memorial and other federal sites is done in memory of veterans and Canadian soldiers who died fighting for the country.
Since it was first lowered in the spring, the national flag has been kept at half-mast when the country marked other national days of remembrance or occasions when it’s typically lowered.
“If a half-masting notice is already in effect for federal buildings and establishments when another half-masting notice — whether mandatory or discretionary — is issued, no action in relation to the national flag of Canada is required,” the department said in a statement.
—The Canadian Press