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EDITORIAL: The Maple Leaf, in all its shades

Five decades under the red maple leaf
"Canada has so much going for it. For those things, we’re genuinely proud. But amidst that, all of us still have a lot of heavy lifting to do for everyone to feel part of a great nation."

We published a Canadian flag in our pages on Saturday.

Along with it ran a front-page note that was both an acknowledgement and an invitation. It was not an apology, nor a warning.

Canada regularly ranks among the best nations in the world. Many of us are proud to live in a country that offers so many freedoms, supports and possibilities. There are a lot of people who have fought and worked hard for those freedoms, none more so than those who have served our country with the Canadian Forces. Our inclusion of the flag was a genuine nod of pride and appreciation to them.

But not everyone is pleased with their place or treatment in Canada.

Indigenous people and cultures have been treated poorly for centuries and are still trying to heal from the loss of traditional lands and government-forced measures like residential schools.

In recent weeks, non-Caucasians have been speaking out about their experiences with racism and microaggressions in Canada. Racism is real in this country. For many, that racism has been exercised by the very country that has brought many others their freedoms.

Our world is not binary. Multiple things can be true at the same time. We have lots to be proud of and we have lots to heal.

That leaves plenty of Canadians feeling perplexed. Our history is not linear. Many are trying to reconcile their past. Debates continue about things like the future of monuments that celebrate those who both built Canada and who also engaged in brutal actions such as bounties and slavery.

Canada has so much going for it. For those things, we’re genuinely proud. But amidst that, all of us still have a lot of heavy lifting to do for everyone to feel part of a great nation.

Our front-page note was an invitation to those feeling left out or let down, and a call for those who are willing to acknowledge that we still have a collective distance to go.

Part of it read: “We understand the flag doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone, however, we hope our readers recognize their ability to play a role in shaping Canada’s future is a freedom worth acknowledging.”

We do not live in an era of either-ors. The right-left philosophies are outdated and, by their nature, built to exclude.

Today, we believe our role as a media outlet is to be inclusive, to pick up both sides of the discussion and to remind those who are marginalized or feeling unwelcome that greater freedom is possible. We are more interested in offering hope that a better Canada is possible, than we are in sticking to our conservative or liberal guns.

There are many reasons to love Canada, but our freedom — and the future hope it offers — is arguably the biggest and most powerful.

We unequivocally thank all those who have fought for that freedom, especially our veterans and those serving in the Canadian Armed Forces. We have the right to have this discussion because of the sacrifices they have made. We also hold a deep respect to those who paid a different price for us to have that freedom and who continue to wrestle with that price today.

While the red Maple Leaf is a symbol of pride for many, it still represents oppression for some.

As a news organization that strives for balance and fostering conversations to make our communities better, we cannot favour one side and ignore the other. In fact, we won’t.

SaltWire Network

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