As you might expect, recent Canada Day and Independence Day celebrations have prompted the widespread display of Canadian or American flags. Normally, waving a country’s flag is seen as an expression of patriotism and pride in citizenship.
More recently, however, the flags have had much contested meanings. And it may not be clear whether those who fly the flag are happy with the governance of their country or the prevailing values.
In Canada, the national flag is increasingly linked to the Freedom Convoy. The Canadian flag has unfortunately been co-opted, often being linked to those who oppose vaccination mandates and other pandemic measures – such as the wearing of masks – intended to protect public health.
Yet many Canadians do not support what the Freedom Convoy stands for. Consequently, many Canadians are reluctant to wave the Canadian flag. They don’t want to risk being misidentified as supporters of the Freedom Convoy and their worldview.
In the United States, the meaning of their flag is also highly disputed. Donald Trump – as US President – played a significant role in the emerging standoff.
When Colin Kaepernick—as an NFL player—initiated the pre-game kneeling motion during the national anthem, Trump quickly entered the conversation by suggesting that, if he kneels, “Maybe be that you shouldn’t be in the country.”
Although he is still authorized to communicate via Twitter, Trump said: “If a player wants to have the privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL or in other leagues, he should not be allowed to disrespect to our great American (or country) flag and should represent the national anthem.
Additionally, Trump said, “Brave patriots have fought and died for our Great American Flag – we MUST honor and respect it!” MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN.
Unsurprisingly, stars and stripes have figured heavily at Trump rallies. Displaying the flag has increasingly become a sign of support for Trump or a conservative ideology. In a politically polarized nation, many American liberals are now reluctant to wave their flag.
So how do Canadians and Americans reclaim their flags and clearly communicate the values they would like to see symbolized?
One possibility is the co-display of flags by which co-branding is exercised. The idea is to look for symbols that can be perceived as strong complements and signal the values on which it is desirable to align.
In practice, such an approach was observable when walking past the Canadian Embassy in Seoul, Korea, during the July 1 holiday weekend. A larger rainbow flag was visible next to the Canadian flag.
While the rainbow or pride flag is a symbol of the LGBT community, the commonly associated proclamation “Love Is Love” has wider applicability. The co-display of flags, near the main entrance of the building, indicates that Canada aspires to be a nation of diversity and inclusiveness.
Through co-branding, the Canadian flag can be retrieved efficiently. Now the consulate’s attention must turn to the provision of passports.