Victoria, Winnipeg rivalry heats up over ‘living flag’

As Victoria prepares for Canada Day, the city’s annual “living flag” celebration returns – along with some friendly rivalry from Winnipeg.

  • Jun. 27, 2014 10:00 a.m.

As Victoria prepares for Canada Day, the city’s annual “living flag” celebration returns – along with some friendly rivalry from Winnipeg.

Comprised of 1,500 to 2,500 people, all dressed in red and white and in the form of a Canadian flag, the living flag first appeared on the B.C. legislature lawn in 2006.

The concept was originally pitched by city councillor and former Downtown Victoria Business Association director Charlayne Thornton-Joe, who said the living flag has proven to be one of the most popular events of Canada Day, growing from 325 to 2,500 participants in eight years.

While Victoria may have the claim to the longest running living flag, the record for largest belongs to Winnipeg, which weaved its flag of 3,500 participants last year.

“We were inspired by Victoria [in 2011], so we issued a challenge to them to beat their numbers from the year prior,” said Jason Syvixay, Downtown Winnipeg BIZ managing director.

“It’s that kind of friendly, nation-wide challenge we take a lot of pride in.”

Living flags have since formed across the country, with Ottawa, Calgary, Langley, and Brandon, Man. all constructing their own this year.

Syvixay’s confident his city will still hold the record come Canada Day, and that moving the event to the newly constructed Canadian Museum for Human Rights will draw even larger numbers than last year.

“We’re eager and ready to come out and defend our title again,” Syvixay said. “We’ve done it the last three years and we’ll be able to do it again.”

Victoria’s edge in the competition is the time zone difference, as organizers learn the numbers of eastern cities’ flags before assembling its own.

While Winnipeg may be focussed on numbers, Thornton-Joe pegged reducing the flag’s environmental footprint as a primary focus this year.

Organizers hope participants can be encouraged to bring their own red and white shirts by allowing them to take “prime spots” in the flag by skipping the shirt line, though 1,500 shirts will still be printed, courtesy of Coast Capital Savings.

Though Thornton-Joe doesn’t expect the numbers to be much higher than last year’s, she isn’t too concerned with setting new records.

“As much as we love friendly competition, we’re happy just to see people check it out,” she said.

The living flag will begin assembling at 12:30 p.m. and be finished by 2 p.m. Participation is open to everyone.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The City of Victoria filed a petition with the Supreme Court of B.C. March 2 to have it clarify whether, under the Trustee Act, Beacon Hill Park can be used for temporary sheltering. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria asks court to clarify if Beacon Hill Park can be used for sheltering

City of Victoria filed petition to Supreme Court of B.C. March 2

The application proposing to rezone Western Speedway was passed by Langford’s planning, zoning and affordable housing committee Feb 8. A petition has since been started by residents of Trudie Terrace, hoping to stop the proposed residential portion of the development plan. (CBRE Victoria)
Petition opposing Western Speedway development proposal gains steam

Save Thetis Heights Neighborhood petition aims to stop extension of Trudie Terrace

Activists from the Fairy Creek Blockades hold the injunction application notice which was submitted by logging company Teal Jones to the B.C. Supreme Court. The application, which asks to have blockaders removed from the sites that stop access to cut blocks, is set to be heard on March 4. (Photo contributed/Joshua Wright)
Activists hunker down to protect Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew from logging

Forest company Teal Cedar applies for injunction to remove seven-month-old blockades

Boma Brown won the Emerging Leader Award for her work founding the Support Network for Indigenous Women and Women of Colour. (Courtesy of Boma Brown)
Victoria SNIWWOC founder up for national women’s award for volunteer efforts

Victoria’s Boma Brown is a semi-finalist in the running for the L’Oreal Paris Women of Worth award

Older rental apartments are prime candidates for renovations, and could result in lost affordable housing stock. (Zoë Ducklow photo)
B.C.’s renoviction overhaul a good start, but won’t preserve affordable stock, lawyer says

And still no protection for people who can’t pay rent due to COVID-19

(Photo by Marissa Baecker/Shoot the Breeze)
B.C. WHL teams to hit the ice with Kelowna, Kamloops hub cities

Kelowna, Kamloops centres chosen to host B.C. WHL teams for 24-game regular season

The victim of the homicide on Cowichan Lake Road early Monday morning was 17 years old, and was stabbed in the incident. (File photo)
Duncan homicide victim was 17 years old

RCMP report that teenager was stabbed

(Black Press file photo)
Agassiz boy, 11, dies from ‘extensive injuries’: Homicide team

Agassiz RCMP were called out Friday to assist with a child in medical distress

(File photo)
RCMP arrest man after report of gun-toting threat-maker near Parksville schools

43-year-old man taken into custody; students at nearby schools were asked to stay inside

The machines are akin to ATMs and allow drug users at risk of overdose to get hydromorphone pills dispensed to them after their palm has been scanned to identify its unique vein pattern. (CANADIAN PRESS)
Feds dole out $3.5M for ‘vending machines’ to dispense safer opioids in B.C.

The machines are located in four cities across Canada, including Vancouver and Victoria

Kelowna’s lakefront visitor centre is one of 130 around the province. Tourism businesses have been hardest hit by COVID-19 restrictions on travel. (Destination B.C.)
Tourism, small business getting COVID-19 help, B.C. minister says

$300M grant program has delivered $50 million so far

Most Read