In 1964, Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson formed a committee to find a flag that would represent Canada and replace the Canadian Red Ensign (a variation of a British merchant marine flag which featured the Union Jack in the corner).
Over 4,000 submissions were received from all walks of life and after consideration, the red and white maple leaf was chosen. On December 17th, Queen Elizabeth II proclaimed the maple leaf as the official flag of Canada.
It was raised for the first time on February 15th, 1965 on Parliament Hill. Since 1996, National Flag Day has been recognized every February 15th.
More information about Canada’s history regarding its national flag can be found here.
Ask students to describe Canada’s flag (or draw it).
Prior to February 15th, send a memo (in school or virtual), asking students to wear red and white, if possible, to represent our Canadian colours. Invite students to include an item of clothing that represents their heritage, if they wish.
Rehearse the singing of “O Canada” and involve students in singing and recording the event. Here are some other options for celebrating National Flag Day:
Review the history of the Canadian Flag above. Ask the students:
Remind students that the Canadian flag represents our pride in being Canadian. When people see this flag, we want them to know immediately that it belongs to Canada.
Brainstorm with students what is important or special about their Canadian school and record their ideas.
Have students create a flag that would represent all the good things about their school. Remind them to select colours, images, icons, or slogans that they feel represent their school.
Create the flags digitally if possible. When the flags are complete, vote on the 4 or 5 that the class feels represent their school best. Consider having someone (perhaps a parent volunteer?) sew and hang your new flag!
Process and connect the activity to National Flag Day by asking:
Explain to students that selecting a flag to represent Canada was no easy task. In fact, it took over a century for Canada to get a flag we could call our own. There were many suggestions and many submissions but the “flag debate” was a long, drawn-out affair. As a class, view the CBC News video “The real story behind the Canadian Flag.”
Invite students to view some of the flag designs that did not make the cut found here.
Have students design a Canadian flag that they feel would represent Canada as they see it today. Post the designs and invite students to share the reasoning behind their design choices and their impressions of their fellow artists’ flags.
For additional activities to celebrate Canada’s Flag Day, check out the Canadian Heritage Teacher’s Corner.