OTTAWA — Puneet Luthra has always taken advantage of the Canadian flags his local MP’s office gives away so he can raise one at his Toronto home.
“I just think it looks great. I think it’s beautiful,” he said.
But this year, he said, it feels different.
“The sad part is sometimes I wonder what people are going to think if I put the flag up,” said Luthra. “People could think that I’m someone with fringe ideas — like anti-vaxxers and things like that.”
The country is typically awash in red and white on the national holiday, but this year people across Canada are reflecting on their relationship with the Maple Leaf.
The “Freedom Convoy” demonstrations that gridlocked the streets of Ottawa in February may seem a long way off in the July sun, but the memory of protesters draped in flags, waving them while singing the national anthem and hanging them from the trucks whose horns blared day and night is still fresh for locals.
Ottawa is bracing for a new round of protests, with police saying this Canada Day will be “unprecedented and unique” with a never-before-seen security posture.
“People have made everyone confused about the value, the impact and the power of the Canadian flag and that’s pretty sad,” Luthra said.
Blaine Chalk said he’s felt a shift in his feelings about the flag’s meaning since the convoy protests, during which flags were used for what he called “extreme patriotism.” While dropping his son off at a recent birthday party, he saw a truck drive by with Canadian flags and convoy-related stickers.
“It’s getting a connotation of: People who are the loudest are always the ones waving the flag,” said Chalk, who lives in London, Ont.
But Megan Ball Rigden said it’s the country’s own complicated colonial history that has her hesitant to embrace the red and white.
“I don’t think I would be waving one myself regardless of the convoy, quite frankly,” she said.
Ball Rigden said people in her mom’s generation chose the Canadian flag, and it’s close to their hearts for being representative of the “good things that we are.”
She said there’s a front yard in her home city of Windsor, Ont., that is “red and white with hundreds of flags.”
“That person’s doing it with nothing but love, but I understand it can certainly mean a lot more for a lot of people,” she said.
During the flag debate of 1964, the Maple Leaf was adopted as a kind of symbolic decolonization gesture with francophones in mind, to illustrate an equal partnership with English and French Canada, said Paul Litt, a history professor at Carleton University who studies Canadian nationalism and culture.
“The conservative reactionary forces were totally opposed to the Maple Leaf,” said Litt, adding they wanted to keep the Red Ensign as the nation’s flag for its symbolism of Canadian tradition and ties to Britain.
At that time, English and French Canadians were termed the “two founding peoples,” he said. “You don’t do that anymore.”
Almost 60 years on from that, people in Canada are starting to see their country and its founding in a different way.
“Time passing has really changed our perspective on ourselves,” said Ball Ridgen.
She feels the flag is representative of a political system that oversaw the colonization of Indigenous peoples, noting the discoveries of unmarked graves at residential schools throughout the country.
“I think people are realizing we’ve really done a good job at branding ourselves in Canada as being kind and loving all the time. But like anyone else, we’ve had our moments of being the oppressor,” she said.
It’s that reckoning with Canada’s past that led Chalk to buy a Canadian Indigenous flag last year, designed by Kwakwaka’wakw artist Curtis Wilson.
“I felt weird flying the Canadian flag after all those events,” Chalk said.
“I felt strongly that I’d rather fly that. I’m still proud to be Canadian, but I think that we’ve kind of left Indigenous Peoples by the wayside for a long time.”
“It’s not perfect … but might as well try.”
The Maple Leaf’s current moment reflects a general problem with public discourse, Litt said, where there are “extremist” factions at both ends of the political spectrum.
While people on the right may seem to be appropriating the flag, as seen with convoy demonstrators, he said those on the left “set themselves up for it” by rejecting a lot of sacred national symbols.
“If they’re going to be unpatriotic, then we’ll be super patriotic,” Litt said of the right’s thinking.
Canada’s national identity has always been contentious, and people can identify strongly with the flag because they project themselves onto that imagined national community, Litt said.
“The reason they love the country so much is because they see the country as representing them,” he said.
“When you start to get these dramatic incidents where there’s evidence that maybe Canada means something different than what you imagined it to be — an extension of yourself — that has great potential for dissonance.”
Ball Ridgen said she understands the flag can be a hurtful symbol for some, and a symbol to be proud of for others.
“Until as a country we analyze it together, I guess we need to have a little bit of ‘Canadian understanding’ for how we all see this,” she said.
“I think there is a space now for a bigger conversation. So in that respect, perhaps the convoy did something really good for all of us.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 30, 2022.
This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.
Erika Ibrahim, The Canadian Press
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Hockey Canada trying to ‘salvage’ World Juniors amid scandal, low ticket sales – Global News
The tournament got underway on Tuesday in Edmonton, Alta., with thousands of tickets still available. It was postponed late last year as a result of the Omicron variant surge.
In the months since, the national organization has become embroiled in condemnation and controversy over its handling of the allegations. As a result, regional tourism body Explore Edmonton, told Global News, it paused promotion of the tournament in July.
“As the host city for the upcoming tournament, we continue to have discussions with Hockey Canada officials about their plans to address the need for change,” said Traci Bednard, CEO of Explore Edmonton.
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For sports culture expert Dan Mason, that’s not a huge surprise.
“Hockey Canada is hurting because they’re lacking sponsorship and the usual promotion that they get. I don’t think it’s necessarily something that they would really want to be doing anyway, given the circumstances that they’re in,” said Mason, a professor of sport management at the University of Alberta.
“I think they’re just trying to salvage this opportunity to have some player development.”
The World Juniors is the international championship for players aged 20 or younger competing for spots on teams run by the national hockey league.
It is run by the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF), which confirmed last week it is now among the growing number of official bodies investigating Hockey Canada over its handling of sexual assault allegations. The Zurich, Switzerland-based world governing body for ice hockey said it wants more information amid a continued storm of criticism and condemnation, which has rocked Hockey Canada to its core.
“These are deeply troubling incidents that the IIHF takes extremely seriously,” the organization told Global News on Aug. 1.
TSN first reported in May that Hockey Canada had settled a lawsuit in which a young woman, “E.M.”, alleged she was sexually assaulted by eight hockey players including members of the 2018 Canadian World Juniors team following a gala organized by the organization.
In the months since, Hockey Canada has been engulfed in scrutiny including: three parliamentary committee meetings focusing on the matter, a funding freeze ordered by the federal sports minister, a financial audit, a renewed criminal investigation by police in London, Ont., and an NHL probe.
The organization has lost multiple major sponsors for the World Juniors tournament including Tim Hortons, Telus, Canadian Tire and Scotiabank, and faced a revolt from provincial hockey organizations vowing to withhold funding. The chair of the board of directors is gone — though the president Scott Smith remains. Former Supreme Court justice Thomas Cromwell is leading a governance review due in November.
Whether Smith will remain in the role after that review remains uncertain.
Meanwhile, Canadian parents are furious, particularly over the revelations of a slush fund used to pay out sexual assault claimants using registration fees paid by parents for their children to play what Stompin’ Tom Connors once called “the good ol’ hockey game.”
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Mason said he expects the impact of the revelations will play out in youth enrolment numbers.
At the same time, some locals who planned to attend the World Juniors said they trust that the problems in the organization are being taken care of and don’t want to penalize the players.
Randy Thompson spoke to Global News outside the Rogers Centre in Edmonton. He said he plans to catch a few games, and after years of COVID-19 disruption watching the World Juniors feels like a return to a “nice tradition.”
“I think it’s on all of our minds and we hope that there’s a positive resolution to that,” he said of the allegations and the outcry facing Hockey Canada.
“But hockey still is what it is and we shouldn’t let that affect us too too much. I think we need to stay true to our hockey culture or hockey tradition, and I know that the right people will take care of things.”
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The Canadian team is set to face off against Latvia on Wednesday in their first game of the tournament.
Team Canada’s head coach André Tourigny said leaders have been emphasizing to players that they are under the spotlight, but kept his remarks to the media brief about the outcry facing Hockey Canada.
“We’ve addressed that. We recognize that there’s steps to be taken,” said Tourigny earlier this week. “We did a sexual violence thing, we did a code of conduct thing.”
Brenda Andress, who was commissioner of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League for 12 years, told Global News she still sees a “code of silence” in Canadian sports when it comes to sex abuse and sexual allegations.
She said in an interview last week that many still have trouble wrapping their heads around the extent of the problem.
“Being in the sports world as long as I have been, there is a code of silence. There’s a culture that we have created, and I think most of us can’t handle the truth that’s out there — that’s really going on in our sports world,” Andress said.
“It’s time that we take a look at it in a lot deeper avenue than we’re currently doing.”
— With files from Global Edmonton’s Morgan Black.
© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Sask. woman, accused of faking own death, says she had 'no choice' but to flee – CBC.ca
The Saskatoon woman accused of staging the disappearance of herself and her son has issued a statement to CBC News from an Oregon jail.
Dawn Walker, 48, was the subject of an extensive missing persons search after she disappeared with her son about two weeks ago. She was found and arrested in Oregon City on Friday and has been detained in the U.S. since.
“I left Saskatoon because I feared for my safety and that of my son,” Walker said in a written statement to CBC News. She didn’t name the person she said she fears, but Walker has previously made domestic violence allegations against her ex, who is the father of her seven-year-old son.
Police have said the domestic violence allegations were investigated, but no evidence was found to support them.
Walker’s friend, Eleanore Sunchild, recorded Walker’s statement during a visit at the Multnomah County Jail in Portland on Monday.
Walker is charged in the U.S. with aggravated identity theft, which, if convicted, would lead to a minimum prison sentence of two years. She has also been criminally charged with parental abduction and public mischief in Canada.
U.S. prosecutors allege that Walker faked her and her son’s deaths as part of an elaborate scheme that involved stolen identities and a fraudulent bank account. Police were able to locate Walker and her son last Friday by following bank transactions for gas, food, Netflix and Airbnb rentals.
Walker says justice system failed
Walker said she was “failed by the Saskatchewan Justice system, the family law system and child protection.”
She said she previously filed domestic abuse reports with Saskatoon police and RCMP and has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
“The police services did nothing to assist me. I reported my concerns to the child protection authorities and again nothing was done. I am fighting systems that continuously fail to protect me as an Indigenous woman and protect non-Indigenous men,” Walker said.
“So many women and children before us have had to run for their lives to protect their children. The SPS and RCMP only cared when they thought I was dead and the pressure they were under because of their blatant failures.”
Before Walker was located by police, her friends and family suggested foul play or interpersonal violence could be involved in her disappearance. Saskatoon police were asked Monday about the allegations.
“Any potential or any previous allegations made by Dawn Walker were thoroughly investigated and no charges resulted as a result of those investigations,” Saskatoon police Deputy Chief Randy Huisman said.
The allegations of domestic abuse were also put directly to her ex, the father of the seven-year-old, by CKOM before Walker and her son were found.
Andrew Jansen told CKOM he “would never hurt Dawn or [her son]. There’s no truth to any of that, and that’s all I can say.” CBC News contacted Jansen about the allegations. He declined to comment, saying he is taking time to focus on his son and family.
Walker says she had ‘no choice’
In her statement, Walker had a message for the dozens of family members, friends and others who prayed and searched for her in the days after she was declared missing.
“I apologize to anyone I hurt. I was left with no choice. No one heard me. I love my son so very much. He is my only child…I was motivated out of my immense love for [him],” she said.
She said she witnessed something involving the boy “that scared me to the core,” but did not elaborate.
“More will come out as I further tell my story upon my return to our Treaty lands,” she said.
Sunchild and Walker’s family also emailed written statements to CBC News. They are pressing for Walker’s extradition to Canada and encouraging others to do the same.
“We, her supporters, urge the Canadian and Saskatchewan governments to commence extradition proceedings immediately so Dawn can return to Canada to deal with her matters there,” said Sunchild, a Cree lawyer in Saskatchewan who is in the U.S. supporting Walker as a friend.
The family said Walker “deserves our compassion and understanding.… It’s not easy being an Indigenous woman in Saskatchewan. All she wanted to do was raise her son in peace.”
Saskatoon police said the criminal investigation into Walker — and those who may have helped her — is ongoing. They said there could be more criminal charges laid depending on the outcome.
A rally is being held Tuesday evening at the Legislature building in Regina in support of Walker, who appears back in court next month.
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