Statement made on 15 February 2007 by Senator Joan Cook (retired)
Hon. Joan Cook:
Honourable senators, today we celebrate National Flag Day. I recall, on a cold, blustery day 42 years ago, trudging up the hill of the former U.S. military base to HMCS Cabot,
with a group of Girl Guides in tow, to watch the unfolding of such a historic moment in our history.
The red maple leaf has long been a symbol of Canada, originating long ago with Canada's Aboriginal peoples gathering maple sap from the trees every spring. Throughout the great world wars the red maple leaf displayed on badges and equipment became the dominant symbol for many of the Canadian regiments and soldiers serving overseas. It was worn in the darkest hours of battle and also in the most celebrated moments of triumph. It continues to be worn by Canadian peacekeepers and troops serving all over the world.
In 1949, with the expectation of a higher standard of living, more public services and a greater economic security in international trade, England's oldest colony, Newfoundland and Labrador, joined this maple leaf nation and became Canada's newest province.
In 1965, the red maple leaf officially adorned the new national flag of Canada. Today, it is a symbol recognized throughout the world as one of peace, diversity, tolerance and respect for human rights. It represents not only our history and the sacrifices we have endured, but also our devotion and commitment to ensure a greater Canada for our children's children.
Honourable senators, today we celebrate that symbol. I believe our rich history has produced a nation of courageous, proud and tolerant people. I am grateful to live in a united nation where we can be who we choose to be, where each person can voice their own opinion without persecution and where we can go about our daily business in relative peace.
May our flag speak to the exciting challenges and opportunities for a future filled with hope and promise.