Quebec's flag is for all of us

Symboles nationaux

"Le fleurdelisé a 60 ans" proclaimed identically both Le Devoir and La Presse yesterday.
Well, not quite. The fleur-de-lis (flower of the lily) is actually thousands of years old, adopted as an emblem by some early civilizations. But it is most notably associated worldwide with pre-revolutionary France - and for us, with Quebec. The fleurdelisé was indeed adopted on Jan. 21, 1948, by Maurice Duplessis's government to "replace the Union Jack."
But over the years, the blue-and-white flag - the Parti Québécois's chosen colours in 1967 were no coincidence - has become an exclusionary symbol, appropriated by sovereignists as a sanctified emblem of the nationalist cause to the exclusion of federalist Quebecers.

It's time to reclaim our flag.
Duplessis's move certainly had a generous backhand dose of "take that, anglos" to it. But it was a legitimate way of redressing a perceived historical injustice, not meant to divide Quebecers between "us" and "them." Flying the maple leaf at a St. Jean Baptiste parade, for instance, is "an outrage and a provocation." Yet fleurdelisés abound - and are welcome - at Canada Day parades.
Those in Quebec who fly both the Maple Leaf and the fleur-de-lis alongside each other have it just right. A flag should be an inclusive symbol above partisan bickering, free of the politics of the moment.
So happy 60th to Quebec's fleur-de-lis. But let it include all of us.

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