Home for the Holidays

VanDusen Festival of Lights – The Magic of Christmas

By Susan Braverman

For me, nothing says Christmas more than Christmas lights! With that in mind, we couldn’t miss the opportunity to feature the VanDusen Garden Festival of Lights, which has always been a sign that Christmas is just around the corner!


Festival of Lights. Image Source: VanDusen Garden

I have so many incredible memories of the Festival of Lights through the years, having attended since it began almost 25 years ago. When it snows in Vancouver, being at the Festival makes you feel like you’re at Santa’s house! In the 90s, we helped create its banner program and made its first-ever street banners, so it’s very close to my heart. This year, we are thrilled to be a part of the excitement once again, having supplied over 50 festive street banners for the 2017 Festival of Lights. The banners are up on Oak and West 37th right outside of the Gardens, making the area even more beautiful, and signaling the beginning of the season of good cheer!


These were the very first Festival of Lights street banners we made for VanDusen Garden in the 90s.


This year’s Festival of Lights street banners that just went up about a month ago.

The Festival ends on January 7, so the clock is ticking. Get your tickets and get out there before it’s too late and be drawn into a magical world of wonder and light, and to be counted among the 110,000+ visitors the Festival has welcomed in recent years. It is a community mainstay offering an enchanted winter wonderland stretching across 15 acres, and sparkling with more than a million lights. A memorable experience for kids of every age, the program includes Candy Cane Lane, the interactive icebergs of Livingstone Lake, community choirs, and the Candy Cane Express model train. Here are some highlights of the Festival:

  • Carousel
    What else can bring on more holiday cheer than a ride on a carousel in a beautifully-lit setting? From grandkids to grandparents, it’s family fun for everyone because all tickets include a free ride on the carousel.
  • Santa’s Place
    Families, kids and couples alike can listen to holiday stories and take a selfie with Santa in the glasshouse until December 24. This is free, included with your entry ticket to the festival!
  • Festival Stage
    Sing along to your favourite festive classics! Enjoy warm beverages while listening to singers, choirs, bands and entertainers inside the Visitor Centre halls. This area is now fully licensed.
  • Fireside Lounge
    Gather around the fire pits and warm up with a holiday beverage in this new outdoor licensed area.
  • Make-A-Wish® Candle Grotto
    Make a donation to the Festival’s charity partner, the Make-A-Wish® Foundation, and make a wish while you light a candle to fill this scenic grotto.
  • Make-A-Wish® – Lego Room of Joy
    In the Visitor Centre, learn about the Make-A-Wish® BC & Yukon, get a glow star with a minimum $5 donation and enjoy the Lego display!
  • Recycled Rhythms
    Let your kids have some fun making music with recycled instruments.
  • Tinsel Tunes
    Play the piano and sing along to holiday tunes in the garden.
  • Selfie Spots and Photo Ops
    Look out for frames, sets, and other selfie spots throughout the show and make sure to share with #VanDusenFOL

Earlier this month, the Vancouver Sun published its Guide to the BEST Christmas Light Displays in Metro Vancouver and it’s no surprise that the VanDusen Garden Festival of Lights is included! Check out the list, and if you think your lights have what it takes to be added, just follow the link to share! If your display makes it onto the list, please be sure to let us know!

For more information about the 2017 Festival of Lights, please visit City of Vancouver’s website.

Stay tuned for more holiday traditions and observances as The Flag Shop’s series “Home for the Holidays” continues, next week with Hanukkah. L’chaim!

Home for the Holidays

Why Can’t We Say “Merry Christmas” Anymore?

By Susan Braverman

Recognizing there are many holiday traditions which take place in December, we’re introducing a special “Home for the Holidays” blog series. This week’s post begins the series, which will continue to the end of the year.

’Tis the Season! What exactly does this mean? For most Canadians, including myself, it means that Christmas – the busiest time of year for many retail businesses – is coming! We all know that as soon as American Thanksgiving is over, our senses are flooded with Christmas advertising and countdowns, telling us what to buy and where to find it. Many around the world observe and recognize this day as a time of giving gifts to one another and family gatherings, as well as a time of reflecting joy, hope, peace, and kindness.

According to Statistics Canada findings, Canadians celebrate holy days in December, with:

  • 67.3% of Canadians reporting affiliation with a Christian religion (Christmas);
  • 1.1% of Canadians reporting affiliation with a Buddhist religion (Bodhi Day), and
  • 1.0% of Canadians reporting affiliation with a Jewish religion (Hanukkah).

As someone who never shies away from speaking my heart and mind, here’s my point of view: We, as Canadians, are privileged beyond words to live in the best country in the world. Personally speaking, I am very proud to say that Canada is my home because we are well-known for embracing diversity, multiculturalism, as well as freedom of expression, and we have a global reputation for valuing compassion, democracy, opportunity, and peace.


Multicultural Day at Sacred Heart School of Halifax in Nova Scotia

As a multicultural nation, Canada is built on values such as respect, and we enjoy the freedom to practice our own traditions and faith, including Christmas. So, my question is: Why can’t we say “Merry Christmas” anymore? December 25 is Christmas Day, so let’s not pretend it isn’t. Canadians observe Christmas Day as a statutory holiday, and on that day, schools and businesses are closed – except for some gas stations, Chinese restaurants, and corner stores.


Spotted and shared this message on my Facebook page

I grew up with a Jewish father and a Christian mother, so even at a young age I understood the meaning of freedom of religion and the importance of respecting diverse traditions. For as long as I can remember, we always had a Christmas tree, which we called the Hanukkah bush! The lights on our house were white, making them the same colour as candles on the Menorah. Every year, at the store and office, we set up Christmas trees and decorations and we greet our customers with “Seasons Greetings” or “Happy Holidays.”


Our Christmas tree at The Flag Shop Vancouver store.

To honour and recognize holiday traditions in December, we hope you’ll enjoy the “Home for the Holidays” series. Let’s all collectively celebrate the joy and wonder of the season.

Stay tuned over the coming weeks as we feature celebrations including Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and others…

Happy Holidays!

November 11 – Why We Remember

Honouring Our Heroes Who Fought in the Name of Peace and Freedom

On Remembrance Day we honour the memory of Canadians who died in armed conflicts, most especially in World War I, and onward. In Canada, though November 11 is officially called Remembrance Day, it is also known as Poppy Day or Armistice Day.

Here are some interesting facts about Remembrance Day you may not already know:

  1. The Governor General of Canada presides over the Remembrance Day ceremony at the National War Memorial in Ottawa. It is attended by the Prime Minister, government officials, veterans’ organizations, veterans and the public.
  2. Members of the Canadian military are honoured each year not only fighting in the two World Wars, the Korean War, the South African War, the Arab-Israeli Conflict of 1974, and in Afghanistan, but also in several dozen UN peacekeeping missions.
  3. According to the Royal Canadian Legion, the poppy should be worn on the left lapel, which is closer to the heart. Poppies are to be worn from October 31 to November 11, and rather than being discarded on November 12, they should be placed at a cenotaph (a monument or tomb built in honour of people who died at war and are buried elsewhere).

On this day, we pay tribute to members of our armed forces and their families, who serve or have served during times of peace, conflict, and war. During the month of November we wear red poppies as symbols of remembrance because of the poem, “In Flanders Fields,” written by a Canadian doctor, Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae. This poem was written from viewpoint of those who made the ultimate sacrifice for freedom and peace, and describes the hope of the deceased for the living to carry on.


Image source: The Canadian Press/Fred Chartrand

Inspired by this poem, Moina Michael, a University of Georgia professor, wrote another poem, “We Shall Keep the Faith”, vowing to wear a red poppy every November 11. She popularized this custom, which spread across Europe, countries of the British Empire and the Commonwealth. In those earliest times when poppies grew in some of the battlefields of Flanders in World War I, real poppies were worn. This is how poppies and their vibrant red colour first became natural symbols bloodshed in the war.


Members of the Canadian military stand in honour of fallen Canadian soldiers. Image source: BlackburnNews.com/Mike Vlasveld

On November 11 Canadians remember members of the Canadian armed forces, past and present, at home and abroad. We salute them for the sacrifices they make to protect peace and freedom for all Canadians. One of the ways we honour those who sacrificed their lives is to observe two minutes of silence at 11:00 a.m. This is a deliberate act rooted in humanity, to reflect on what we owe all those who have helped to shape our nation – those who experienced the harshest realities of war.

If you would like to know about Remembrance Day events in your community, please visit the Veterans Affairs Canada website, to access an interactive map of events across Canada.

The Flag Shop carries a full range of Canadian-made Remembrance Day products as well as ensigns and military flags to pay tribute to our serving and fallen heroes.

Cirque du Soleil: KURIOS – Cabinet of Curiosities

Crazy Dreams and Grand Schemes Await

KURIOS – Cabinet of Curiosities premiered in Montreal in April of 2014. Since its debut, the spectacle has brought joy and wonder to audiences across six continents, reaching more than 180 million people in more than 400 cities. This traveling show has 4,000 employees, including 1,300 performing artists from nearly 50 different countries around the globe.

Everyone’s heard of Cirque du Soleil, but did you know KURIOS – Cabinet of Curiosities is its 35th production since 1984? Check out these fun facts about KURIOS, which we hope will get you as pumped up as we are about experiencing the breath-taking performance:

  1. The troupe uses a total of 426 props, which is the most of any Cirque production in its history.
  2. There are over 100 beautiful costumes worn by the performers, which are carefully handled and also repaired between shows. Counting the hats, shoes and wigs, there are over 800 costume pieces required for the show.
  3. As the troupe travels the show circuit, they are accompanied by 2,000 tons of equipment, transported in 65 trucks, from city to city.
  4. A mechanical hand weighing 750 pounds, and 15 feet wide is part of the set design. Talk about a big hand!

The Flag Shop Vancouver is super excited to be the supplier to our client Live Nation, the show’s promoter, for whom we produced over 450 beautiful, custom printed banners to celebrate and promote KURIOS. These vibrant banners now adorn the streets of Vancouver, a simply stunning sight against the city’s skyline.

The show opened in Vancouver one week ago and audiences have been wowed by a world-class entertainment experience. The story is about a scientist who, when learning about electricity, discovers an invisible world – a place where the craziest of dreams and the grandest of schemes are waiting to be born. In this alternate yet recognizable world, wonder awaits anyone who dares to trust their imagination, unleashing the magic by closing their eyes.

From his bigger-than-life curio cabinet, the “Seeker” finds this hidden world of magic and wonder. A rare collection of characters from another world comes to life, entering his improvised mechanical world. As the peculiar characters turn his world topsy-turvy, his trinkets come alive right before his eyes.

For more information about Cirque du Soleil: KURIOS – Cabinet of Curiosities, please visit https://www.cirquedusoleil.com/kurios

The Flag Shop supports the arts and entertainment industry in many capacities, from designing custom banners to supplying international flags.

Chester – His Journey from Orphanhood to Adoption

The Vancouver Aquarium: Abounding with Beauty and Wonder

Have you ever met Chester? Well, everyone has a story and Chester is no different! He was just a little “baby” false killer whale (a member of the oceanic dolphin family) when he was rescued on the beach near Tofino, BC, in the summer of 2014. At the time, he was only a few weeks old and hadn’t even grown teeth yet. Stranded on North Chesterman Beach, hurt and scrawny, no other members of his species were nearby – not even his mother. Chester was brought into the care of the Vancouver Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Rescue Centre.


Chester’s rescue effort back in July, 2014. Source: Vancouver Aquarium

Once he was restored to tip-top shape, a group of marine mammal experts, who were called together by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, all agreed that Chester could not be released into the wild. He’d had considerable contact with humans, was very young, and lacked hunting and social skills. False killer whale calves at his age, in the wild, are completely dependent on their mothers.

If you’ve ever had the privilege of visiting the Vancouver Aquarium, then you will understand first-hand the beauty, awe, and wonder of seeing marine life up-close. The Vancouver Aquarium has been involved in the rescue of marine mammals for more than 40 years, rehabilitating and releasing animals, including California sea lions, harbour seals, Stellar sea lions, elephant seals, a harbour porpoise and even a killer whale.

As the first-ever and largest public aquarium in Canada, the Vancouver Aquarium takes pride in its global reputation as a leading marine science centre. Home to more than 70,000 animals, more than one million people from all over the world visit every year to see the whales, dolphins (like Chester), snakes, and otters, to name just a few.

The Flag Shop has worked with the aquarium on many special projects over the years, producing everything from custom banners, to event backdrops, tents, curtains, pennant strings and of course, flags. Through our interactions, we know the aquarium is about so much more than beauty and wonder (as if that were not enough)!


Various projects we have done for the Vancouver Aquarium throughout the years

The breath-taking allure of marine life is undeniable and the aquarium’s mission statement is equally impactful: “The Vancouver Aquarium is a self-supporting, non-profit society dedicated to effecting the conservation of aquatic life through display, communication, education and public programming, research and direct action.”

The aquarium is also an Ocean Wise® initiative. Ocean Wise® is an organization of educators, conservationists and scientists who work together to fulfill a vision of a world where our oceans are healthy and flourishing. Over-fishing is a real and global concern, combined with the threat of extinction of ocean species, relating to climate change. The Vancouver Aquarium is a leader in taking action against this threat through its research and conservation efforts. Ocean Wise® certifies sustainably harvested seafood, helping consumers to make informed and responsible decisions with their seafood menu selections.


Chef Ned Bell of Vancouver Aquarium. Source: Vancouver Aquarium

If you’re in the Vancouver area and would like to explore and learn more about the importance of sustainability and education relating to marine life, visit the aquarium, or go to the Vancouver Aquarium website: http://www.vanaqua.org/

Co-op Week 2017: It’s Here!

Canadian Co-ops – It’s Your Time to Shine

As co-ops and credit unions across the country hold Co-op Week celebrations from October 15 – 21, 2017, here are some fun facts about co-ops we bet you didn’t know:

  • Co-ops are the life of the party. The London Brewing Company in Ontario is the first worker’s co-operative brewery outside of Quebec. It’s owned by the people who work there, with each one participating in setting the direction of the business, in a democratic manner. They’ve got “Local 117” on tap now.
  • Your pancakes taste better because of co-ops – 35% of the world’s maple syrup supply comes from Canadian co-ops.
  • Thanks to Holland Flora, a flower co-op in the Netherlands, our world is more beautiful and smells nicer, too. This European co-op holds 44% of the world market, selling 19 million flowers and two million plants every single day!
  • Ontario is home to eight renewable energy co-ops and the Toronto Renewable Energy Co-op was the first-ever green power community co-op in Canada. When it comes to green energy, Ontario tops the list!


Workers are also owners at London Brewing Company. Source: London Brewing Company


Quebec co-operative, Citadelle, is the world’s largest maple syrup producer and exporter. Source: Country-guide.ca


Holland Flora’s warehouse. Source: Holland Toolkit


TREC is Canada’s leader in the development of community owned renewable energy. Source: TREC Renewable Energy Co-operative.

There’s no doubt that co-ops are leaders in many business sectors, and during Co-op Week, we celebrate with them for all that they do to help to build a better world. Co-operatives are all about achieving sustainable social, economic, cultural, and environmental goals, as guided by international co-operative principles and values.

In the last of our co-op blog series, we feature the Canadian Co-operative Association (CCA) and Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada (CMC), with whom we’ve been working since 2011. The CCA is a not-for-profit co-op dedicated to ending global poverty through co-operative action. The mission of the CCA is “to establish and grow co-operatives, credit unions and community-based organizations to reduce poverty, build sustainable livelihoods and improve civil society in less-developed countries.”

Since 1987, the CCA has been organizing and assembling the human and financial resources of Canada’s co-operatives and credit unions to bring valuable international development programs. This is accomplished with the support of local partnerships in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and the Americas, on behalf of the Co-operative Development Foundation of Canada (CDF) and Global Affairs Canada.


Source: Canadian Co-operative Association

In 2014, Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada (CMC) was launched by combining the experience and history of two large co-op organizations: the CCA and le Conseil canadien de la coopération et mutualité (CCCM), which had, up to that point, been operating separately. As a bilingual association, the CMC represents more than 18 million members from 9,000 co-operatives, giving a united voice to its membership. CMC focuses its activities on helping co-operatives establish themselves, develop, and prosper. Through federal government advocacy, CMC offers a knowledgeable voice to support national policies which strengthen the co-operative economy. With its members representing many sectors including agri-food and supply, housing, finance, insurance, wholesale and retail, health, as well as the service sector, CMC provides leadership for the benefit of all Canadians.


Lobby Day in Ottawa on February 14, 2017. Source: Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada / Coopératives et mutuelles Canada

The co-op way is all about people, empowerment, sustainability, autonomy, community and caring for one another. It’s no wonder we love supporting co-ops and all the important work they do, here at home and around the world.

To learn more about the CCA or the CMC, please visit their websites: canada.coop and coopscanada.coop. For more information about our co-op product line, please visit our co-op products website at thecoopstore.ca.

Helping Build a Better World through Co-op Education and Co-operation

Alberta Community and Co-operative Association

Imagine a world where every dollar you spend supporting your local co-op increases reinvestment opportunities in your community. Then imagine, as a co-op member, you are also an owner, holding shares in the co-op. And finally, imagine that you receive a portion of the profits each year, based on how much you spend at your own co-op. This is the beauty of the co-op: membership is ownership, and profits are shared with all owners.

As we continue our special co-op blog series leading up to Co-op Week, which runs from October 15 – 21, we feature the Alberta Community and Co-operative Association (ACCA). The mission of the ACCA is to strengthen the communities of Alberta by promoting co-op values and developing co-op leaders. All co-ops are bound by a common set of values, including solidarity, self-help, self-responsibility, and democracy. Guided by co-op values and principles, the ACCA supports co-ops to address the social, cultural and economic needs of Albertans.


2017 Summit of Co-operative Leaders. Source: Alberta Community and Co-operative Association

The ACCA is part of a national and international association of businesses which places people ahead of profits, co-operating to advance community well-being. Co-ops are started when a group of people see a specific need or opportunity within their community, then grow and prosper under their own vision and direction.

Alberta is known as a destination for many things, including the majestic Rockies, the Calgary Stampede, and the world’s only permanent Star Trek museum. It’s even where the phrase “trick or treat” was first used on Hallowe’en! It’s also a place where more than one million people – roughly one quarter of its population – choose to be members of co-ops. Every type of co-op can be found, ranging from grocery co-ops to housing co-ops, credit unions, gasoline co-ops, insurance co-ops, farm supplies co-ops and even utilities co-ops. The ACCA builds and strengthens relationships within the community to fulfill its goals of advancing co-op leadership and promoting co-op values. The association engages organizations in important dialogue about Alberta’s “co-op advantage”, including municipalities, the provincial government, economic development organizations and learning institutions.


Various types of co-operatives in Alberta. Clockwise from top left: Central Alberta Co-op, Carpathia Housing Co-Op Ltd, Servus Credit Union, and United Farmers of Alberta Co-operative Ltd.

Michele Aasgard, Executive Director of the ACCA, said, “Our organization is proud to support communities across Alberta, applying co-op principles in our daily work.” She added, “The ACCA is a leadership organization whose chief purpose is to educate people. Through youth education programs, adult education, and education about the co-op model, we share the knowledge that co-ops make invaluable contributions to the social and economic advancement of the communities they serve.”

As determined by its members, the ACCA exists for five main reasons:
• To raise awareness about the co-operative model
• To involve and educate youth in the co-operative movement
• To advocate for co-operatives to governments
• To create networking opportunities to strengthen the co-op sector
• To be a resource for co-operative development and education


2017 Summit of Co-operative Leaders. Source: Alberta Community and Co-operative Association

With two Flag Shop locations in Alberta for 25 years, one in Edmonton and the other in Calgary, we’ve known about the ACCA and their outstanding community work for many for years. In one of our most memorable projects, we worked together providing polyknit flags, buttons, friendship pins, magnets, pens, pennant strings and paper flags to support “2012 International Year of Co-operatives” celebrations.

With Co-op Week right around the corner, we celebrate and acknowledge the work of the ACCA for supporting co-op education and for promoting the co-op way of doing business, impacting co-operators across Alberta and beyond, all while helping to build a better world.

For nearly seven years, The Flag Shop has been proudly supporting Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada and the International Co-operative Alliance initiatives across Canada and around the globe. For more information about our co-op product line, please visit our co-op products website: thecoopstore.ca. To learn more about The Flag Shop and to see everything else we can do, go to: www.flagshop.com.

250,000 Canadians Call the Co-op Their Home

Co-op Housing Federation of Canada Supports Unique Housing Options

Shelter, or adequate living standards, is a basic human right, together with others such as the right to education, and freedom from discrimination. As we celebrate Co-op Week from October 15-21, we pay tribute to our friends at the Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada (CHF Canada), which supports its membership of more than 900 not-for-profit housing co-ops across the country.


Source: CHF Canada

According to the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, a household is in “core housing need” if it does not meet standards of adequacy, affordability or suitability, and if the household would need to spend 30% or more of its before-tax income to find acceptable local housing. With more than three million Canadians currently in “core housing need”, housing co-ops provide a solution that addresses a real and pressing need in our communities.

The Flag Shop has known about the important work of CHF Canada since we began working together over a decade ago, providing everything from custom banners, pennant strings, lapel pins and paper flags, to lawn signs, buttons and lanyards. Our President, Susan Braverman said, “Vancouverites are fully aware of the ongoing housing crisis here in the Lower Mainland.  However, affordable housing is also a real and serious problem in the rest of the country.” She added, “We just can’t miss the opportunity to share with our readers the important work of CHF Canada in helping provide affordable housing for its members.”


30′ vinyl banner made for a housing co-op in Toronto.


Over 150 housing co-ops installed banners to celebrate 2012 IYC. This banner was installed in Vancouver.

One of the unique aspects of the co-operative business model is that members are in control of their own co-op, on the basis of one member, one vote, giving life to co-op principles such as “Autonomy and Independence.” In the case of a housing co-op, this means there is no outside landlord imposing the rules. This allows co-ops to truly serve its own needs because the people who live in these co-ops govern themselves.

Fulfilling its mission to inspire, represent and serve its membership, CHF Canada is the national voice of the Canadian co-operative housing movement. More than 250,000 Canadians live in housing co-ops in every province and territory from coast to coast to coast. Housing co-ops, with the help of CHF Canada, make an enormous and commendable impact on meeting the basic human rights to adequate living standards.


Springfield Seniors Housing Co-op in Winnipeg is an example of a new co-op development. Source: CHF Canada


Source: CHF Canada

In different parts of the world, the co-op housing model takes on many forms. Here in Vancouver, the majority of housing co-ops are rentals established in the 1970s and ’80s under social housing programs, improving the well-being of people with lower to moderate incomes. As housing co-ops continue to evolve, different types are emerging, such as equity housing. Equity housing co-ops involve the purchase of shares by the member, representing the value of the home.

As we get closer to Co-op Week, we want to recognize CHF Canada for its part in addressing such an important need. Thank you for inspiring and empowering people to participate in influencing their own future through social and economic advancement, and for demonstrating just how much can be accomplished through co-operation.


Source: CHF Canada

The Flag Shop is proud to be the source for official Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada and ICA Co-op Marque branded products! For more information about our co-op product line, please visit our co-op products website: thecoopstore.ca. To learn more about The Flag Shop and see our complete product line, please visit our main website: www.flagshop.com.

BC’s Largest Credit Union is Founding Partner of Reconciliation Canada

Values-Based Banking – Impacting the Community through Co-op Values

We love Vancity! We’ve been working with this financial co-operative for over 30 years. Our President, Susan Braverman, says her first memory of Vancity was at the age of eight. “I remember getting my first pay cheque for working at The Flag Shop, which was owned by my mother,” she recalls, “I walked five blocks to the Vancity on Broadway and Waterloo and opened an account all by myself!” No one could have known, all these years later, how special Vancity would continue to be to us.


Image Source: Vancity

Since its founding in 1946, Vancouver City Savings Credit Union has been building healthy and sustainable communities. Serving more than 523,000 member-owners in the Coast Salish and Kwakwaka’wakw territories, home to Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest, as well as 59 branches spanning Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, Squamish, Victoria, and Alert Bay, Vancity is a values-driven financial co-operative. It’s guided by co-op values and principles, and exists for the benefit of its members and their communities.


Michael Berry (Mayor of the Village of Alert Bay), Tamara Vrooman (President and CEO of Vancity Credit Union) and Debra Hanuse, (Chief Councillor of the ‘Namgis First Nation) signing a memorandum of understanding on February 26th 2015 in Alert Bay, BC. Image Source: ‘Namgis First Nations.

Vancity is a leader in meeting the financial needs of its members and is known for being the first among Canadian financial institutions to offer mortgages to women without requiring a male co-signer, the first to become carbon neutral, and the first to offer a socially responsible mutual fund. Providing financial services for people of all walks of life, Vancity is owned and democratically controlled by its members, on the basis of one member, one vote.

Since the early 1980s, The Flag Shop has been supplying Vancity with items ranging from Canadian and provincial flags to corporate logo flags, Pride flags, and even the Canadian Native Flag. Based on the numerous projects we’ve worked on with them, we know whenever something is happening that helps our community, Vancity is right there in the thick of it.

Modeling the co-op principle of “Concern for Community”, Vancity is the founding partner of Reconciliation Canada. Reconciliation Canada promotes important and much-needed change by strengthening relationships among Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians. The legacy of 150,000 Indigenous children who were separated from their families at very young ages, many of whom suffered emotional, physical and sexual abuse at Indian Residential Schools, tarnishes Canada’s history. The goal of Reconciliation Canada is to help Indigenous Peoples and all Canadians to reconcile, heal and forgive. That way, Canadians will redefine the future by building resilient communities together.


2013 Walk for Reconciliation in Vancouver. Image Source: Vancity

As part of its efforts, in 2013 Reconciliation Canada brought together Canadians in BC from all walks of life for the very first Walk for Reconciliation. 70,000 people took a united stand for social justice, inclusion, and a brighter future. Leading up to the first walk, we were so thrilled for the opportunity to work with one of our other long-time favourite customers, the City of Vancouver, to promote what would become an annual event.


More than 70,000 people participated in the 2013 Walk for Reconciliation in Vancouver. Image Source: The Canadian Press


2013 Walk for Reconciliation street banners, made by The Flag Shop

This year, on September 24, 2017, the Walk for Reconciliation once again brought people of all backgrounds and cultures together to walk for healing, understanding and compassion. We invite you to join the Vancouver community and support the spirit of “’Namwayut – We are all one.” For more information please visit: reconciliationcanada.ca


2017 Walk for Reconciliation in Vancouver. Photo credit: Darryl Dyck / The Canadian Press

As we get closer to Co-op Week 2017, which runs from October 15 – 21, and continue our co-op blog series, we want to pay tribute to Vancity for its ongoing commitment to leading positive change, and for being an outstanding model of co-operation in business.

The Flag Shop is proud to be the source for official Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada and ICA Co-op Marque branded products! To see our new co-op product line, please visit: thecoopstore.ca

Co-operatives Build a Better World

Shining the Spotlight on Co-ops in Canada’s Arctic

Co-op Week is a national celebration of co-operatives and credit unions which takes place across Canada during the third week of October each year. The Flag Shop has many friends in the co-op sector, a world which opened up to us in a very big way back in 2011. In the weeks leading up to Co-op Week 2017, we will be highlighting some of our co-op and credit union clients.

Our President, Susan Braverman, has been on the board of Common Thread Co-op for the last several years and understands the power and the human impact of co-operatives. It was through her ties with Common Thread Co-op that she was first introduced to Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada (CMC), in 2011. In 2012, the United Nations International Year of Co-operatives (IYC), The Flag Shop supplied co-op enterprises with all they needed to make a big splash for the year – everything from banners and flags, to pop-up tents, pennant strings, zoomflags, lapel pins, decals and tablecloths. Susan said, “This was the beginning of a deeper understanding of the real beauty of the co-op business model: a way of doing business that brings lasting human impact, where co-op members are actually owners who set the direction of the business.” She added, “Using this model, ordinary people advance themselves both socially and economically and, without a doubt, we are thrilled to be a part of something that is driven by a deep sense of community and co-operation.”

Through the CMC, The Flag Shop connected with co-ops and credit unions across Canada, including Arctic Co-operatives Limited (Arctic Co-ops). Arctic Co-ops is a co-operative service federation, which is owned and democratically controlled by 32 community-owned co-operative businesses across Nunavut, Northwest Territories and Yukon. The primary role of the federation is to co-ordinate the resources and combined purchasing power of these multi-purpose co-ops as they work together to provide essential services in their own communities. These services include retail grocery stores, hotels, fuel distribution, arts and crafts marketing, cable television, and property rentals.


Co-op celebrations reaching Arctic communities throughout Nunavut, Northwest Territories, and Yukon.

Co-operatives in Canada’s Arctic share a vision of people working together to improve their well-being. These co-ops put into practice their principles such as “Concern for Community”, “Member Economic Participation” and “Voluntary and Open Membership”, giving ordinary people a voice to be heard and a sense of belonging. In many cases, these co-ops are the heart and soul of the communities they serve. They put people before profit and reinvest in their communities. This is the power of the co-operative: members share everything including ownership, decision-making and profits.

Thriving since 1959, even in the face of many obstacles, such as harsh weather conditions, isolation, and huge changes to their traditional ways of life, the Co-op System in the Arctic has endured, showing the remarkable spirit of the people who call the Arctic their home. Co-ops are about people who join together for social and economic advancement, to build communities, and to help themselves by helping each other.

With all this in mind, is it any wonder at all that we would take such joy in helping co-ops in the Arctic celebrate Co-op Week for the past five years? As we gear up for Co-op Week, which is only a few weeks away, we wish the very best to Arctic Co-ops and to the 32 member co-ops who depend on you every day.


These products are made by The Flag Shop for Arctic Co-ops to promote and celebrate Co-op Week, 2017.

For more information about Co-op Week, please visit the Co-ops and Mutuals Canada website.

The Flag Shop is the source for official Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada and ICA Co-op Marque branded products! For more information, please visit: coopstore.ca