A flag can be a symbol of identity and pride. It can also be divisive.
The Labrador flag was created in 1973 to bring unity to Labradorians, but the provincial government is not so sure of its unifying power.
Jordan Brown, president of the Labrador West branch of the Labrador Heritage Society, has been gaining support from MHAs and mayors across the Big Land to have a Labrador flag placed at each gateway entering Labrador City and L’Anse au Clair.
“It’s a cultural symbol that’s been used for 40 years by the people of Labrador for a unified Labrador,” said Brown.
He initiated a flag-raising ceremony in Labrador City for the flag’s 40th anniversary.
“It’s the meaning of the flag, representing all the aboriginal groups and settlers. Everything that is Labrador is represented in that flag. It’s something we all know and cherish.”
Labrador West MHA Nick McGrath said the province has a provincial flag for a reason.
“Newfoundland and Labrador is one province and the government sees it as unification under the provincial flag, which was adopted in 1980,” he said.
“Labrador is not a separate entity of the province, no more than the northeast Avalon is a separate entity.”
McGrath said the distinction would be a step backwards.
“We’ve been many years trying to unify Labrador and the island portion of the province. By flying a separate flag representing one part of the province versus the other, or versus both of them put together, is tearing the project apart rather than bringing that unification.”
It’s not just the Labrador flag that has been turned down, McGrath said.
“For example, there’s always a strong request to have the pink, white and green flag, an unofficial flag of the province that a lot of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians consider to be a nationalistic flag of the province.”
McGrath said anyone is free to fly the flag wherever they choose, but it is not a representation of the province as an official flag.
“We have to recognize the flag that will represent all of the province, and we’ll continue to fly that.”
Brown believes Labrador and Newfoundland should both celebrate the different cultures.
“We are two different territories, different land masses. We should celebrate each other’s differences rather than having one symbol covering the whole works of it. I see it as celebrating each other’s differences.”
And he remains optimistic.
“I think government will change their mind.”