Canada Celebrates National Aboriginal Day on June 21

Celebrating the Heritage and Achievements of the Nation’s Aboriginal Peoples

We’ve all heard of Aboriginal Day, but how many of us really know how it all began? Back in 1996, Canada’s Governor General proclaimed the first National Aboriginal Day on June 21. This date was specially chosen because the Summer Solstice takes place each year on or around that date. Throughout history, Canada’s Aboriginal peoples have celebrated their cultures, heritage, customs and values on the Summer Solstice.

National Aboriginal Day Celebration in Edmonton, AB. Photo credit & source: Alicja Siekierska/CBC News

The Flag Shop treasures our relationships with our Aboriginal clients, which date back to the 1970s. Over the years, we have supplied countless flags, custom banners and promotional items, all celebrating and honouring the culture and values of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. Take a peek at our Aboriginal Products Gallery, because, as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words!

A Chance Meeting – The Beginning of a Beautiful Relationship
The Flag Shop President, Susan Braverman, first met Kwakwaka’wakw Artist Curtis Wilson on Facebook, of all places! Curtis is the designer and the heart and soul behind the Canadian Native Flag. When Susan first learned about the meaning and beauty behind the design, she knew she wanted to help share it with the world. Susan said, “It’s hard to believe it’s already been three years since Curtis and I first met.” She added, “It’s a great time to honour the Aboriginal peoples of our country while promoting unity among Canadians, and Curtis’ flag does just that!”

Referring to the flag, Curtis said, “The two designs on the red side bands are K’utala-Salmon. Salmon is the perfect way to convey the importance of family, friendship, and strength in numbers. There are as many types of people living here in Canada as there are types of salmon. I would like to see us coming together in the future, not only my First Nations people, but all of Canada. The design within the maple leaf is a head of a killer whale in the shape of an oval. The killer whale head is surrounded by some traditional use designs called split ’U’ shapes.”

Share Some Laughs with the Aboriginal Lawyers Forum of Canadian Bar Association, BC Chapter
We love supporting events in our community, so when we were approached to support an upcoming event hosted by the BC Region, Department of Justice Canada and the Aboriginal Lawyers Forum (ALF), we jumped on board! We donated a gift package with two large Canadian Native Flags, embroidered crests, tattoos, enamel lapel pins and paper stick flags. These items will go towards the online auction, as part of a special Canada Day gift basket. The auction, in its 10th anniversary, will run from June 16 – 24. Proceeds will go towards the ALF, whose mandate is to support Aboriginal law students, graduates and practitioners, and enhance the importance and influence of Aboriginal people in the legal profession. Auction items will be displayed at a special celebratory reception at the Westin Wall Centre, Richmond, on June 16. There will be great entertainment, food and refreshments! Mi’kmaw broadcaster, comedian and activist Candy Palmater will perform.

Celebrations are being held in every region of our great nation. Check out the listing of Aboriginal Day events and plan to attend a celebration in your community. And, don’t forget your Canadian Native Flag!

National Aboriginal Day Celebration in Vancouver, BC. Image source: Vancitybuzz

29th Annual Concord Pacific Vancouver Dragon Boat Festival

June 23 – 25, 2017 at False Creek and Creekside Park

Everyone in the Vancouver area has heard of the Concord Pacific Vancouver Dragon Boat Festival, an eagerly anticipated annual event, now in its 29th year! Dragon boating is both competitive and highly entertaining, appealing to both its participants and its spectators. This three-day festival promotes cultural diversity while honouring and celebrating the sport of dragon boating, as well as the many unique elements of Chinese culture.

Rowing team competing at the 28th Annual Dragon Boat Festival in False Creek. Source Dragon Boat BC.

The Flag Shop is thrilled to supply Concord Pacific with their street banners for this year’s Dragon Boat Festival. These banners now adorn Pacific Boulevard and the Cambie Street Bridge, against the breath-taking city skyline.

Street banners hanging over the Cambie Street Bridge in Vancouver.

Festival organizers and The Canadian International Dragon Boat Festival Society (CIDBFS) expect more than 100,000 will come out to see dragon boating at its finest, lining the shores of False Creek and Creekside Park. Final numbers show that 5,500 local and visiting athletes will compete in the races. Whatever your interests, the festival offers something for everyone, from professional entertainment to local artisans and interactive art displays. There’ll be a professional circus for kids of all ages, too!

Crowds line the seawall at the Dragon Boat Festival on False Creek. Source: News 1130

About the Society
The Canadian International Dragon Boat Festival Society is a professional, independent, non-profit society. They are a people-centered, teamwork-focused and highly inclusive organization. The society believes that the promotion of community integration is vital to the formation of a strengthened community and they are responsive to the needs of the neighbourhood, continuing to focus its efforts on making a lasting and positive impact on the community.

Wow! Thank you, CIDBFS for the work you do for the community. What an amazing and honourable purpose! Your focus on the community makes us beam with pride to serve you as our client.

Come out for the fun, Friday, June 23 to Sunday, June 25. Festival admission is free.

For more information, visit:

Young Men’s Adventure Weekend

The Village Welcomes the Young Men of the Village into a Man’s World

The motto of the Young Men’s Adventure Weekend (YMAW) says it all: “The Village Welcomes the Young Men of the Village into a Man’s World.” During their annual weekend of planned activities, the elders of the village place major challenges in front of the younger men. These challenges take them on a journey of self-discovery, teaching them skills, while unleashing their own potential for greatness. The program truly helps to build communities, by initiating spirited, purpose-driven and strong young men, who will eventually become great husbands, fathers and leaders.

The Young Men learn to work as a team when canoeing, an important life-skill that shows them the value of teamwork.

When our president, Susan Braverman, first heard about YMAW, it captured her heart because she has a teenaged son of her own. Susan knew she wanted to do something special to show her support of YMAW, so she offered to make them a custom banner. “YMAW is doing such important and amazing work,” says Susan, “which is actually shaping the future for boys and young men as they get ready for adulthood. I’m so thrilled to support this effort and I’m even more excited because my son, Grey is enrolled for this summer!”

The program offers activities and rites of passage for boys aged 12 – 17.  Young men who experience YMAW will emerge with a deeper sense of their own individual spirit, an understanding of responsibility and accountability, and the importance of being a team player, working together to support each other. In a nutshell, this unique, fun and sometimes life-changing wilderness experience will catapult young men towards adulthood. YMAW is proud of its program flexibility, allowing participants to talk about any issue they may be facing, in a safe environment.

The Young Men spend a weekend shadowing two other adults, figuring it all out together as a team.

Program founder and leader, Brad Leslie and his team have been changing the lives of young men since 1990. Brad says, “It is truly remarkable to see the lessons these young men learn during the weekend.” Adding, “For me, the real reward and satisfaction comes when the young men tell us about how their experiences have impacted their lives and how they see a brighter future for themselves.”

20 of 60 men who produce YMAW with over 300 years combined experience mentoring the next generation of men, posing in front of the custom banner we made for them.

The next YMAW session runs from July 7 – 9, 2017 inclusive, at a secret wilderness location on Harrison Lake, BC. According to the inside scoop, the production planning team has been meeting and they are pumped and ready to deliver a weekend packed full of adventure and discovery. No Girls Allowed!

Avoid disappointment and visit the YMAW website for more details:

Canadian Leaders in Collaboration with UN Women

Doing Our Part to Abolish Forced and Early Marriage

Many of us have heard the term “forced marriage”; however, some may not be aware of current statistics reflecting a harsh reality: each year 15 million girls and women around the world are forced to marry against their will. This equates to one forced marriage every two seconds. Early and forced marriage is a violation of human rights and severely impacts social and economic development on a global scale. While this is an international crisis, forced marriage is happening in our own backyard as well. Children account for 700 million, while people in the LGBTQ community and women with disabilities are also forced into marriage. Canadian law contains provisions in family, immigration and criminal laws which help to protect citizens from marriage without consent, however, these provisions do not address the longstanding and culturally-accepted practices of other nations.

The United Nations Women Not Yet for the Dress International Gala will help abolish forced marriage, with its important and honourable goals! Proceeds from this event will go directly toward funding a culturally sensitive transition house right here in the Lower Mainland, directed by the Shakti Society. This cause requires vital funding to bring hope and provide resources for the victims, once the marriages are annulled. Considerations for positive change, to ensure an effective transition, include emotional support, access to education, job skills and medical care.

Cover of the South Asian Post featuring Kerri Gibson (seated), organizing Director of Not Yet for the Dress, at the recent Shakti awards.

When our President, Susan Braverman heard about this event, she immediately knew she wanted to support the effort by donating a custom-printed media wall and Canadian and United Nations flags to this event. She said, “These victims need us to speak up for them and give them a voice, which is so important because every young girl deserves a chance at a bright future.” Adding, “I grew up in a household of powerful women and we simply could not miss our chance to help uphold the basic human rights of freedom of expression and education.”

Custom-printed banner in production that Susan donated to Not Yet for the Dress.

Not Yet for the Dress banner

The evening will be filled with top-tier entertainment by multiple Grammy Award winning musicians led by Ricky Kej, enlightenment from global expert Mandy Sanghera, words of welcome by United Nations diplomats and First Nations leaders, an exclusive personalized video by Mme. Sophie Gregoire as introduced by the Honourable Minister Randeep Sarai, Leader of the Pacific Caucus, and a chance to bid on a special surprise from famed Italian goldsmith, Gerardo Sacco, trusted jewelry designer to Elizabeth Taylor, Sophia Loren and Lady Di.

“This event has been carefully planned over many months, with the ultimate goal to raise the global profile of an important socio-economic cause.” said Kerry Gibson, Organizing Director of the event. “We hope to create momentum for large-scale and global change, and of course, we want to give all event supporters an unforgettable and special evening!”

Join us for a Mediterranean Feast including local wines and a fashion show and stand together with The Flag Shop against early and forced marriage.

For event information:

Canadians Celebrate Victoria Day on May 22

Queen Victoria: The First Sovereign of a Confederated Canada

In Canada, everyone knows about the May long weekend. But how many of us really know the reason we celebrate Victoria Day? It’s Queen Victoria’s birthday! She was the Queen of England at the time of Canadian Confederation, which took place on July 1, 1867 — 150 years ago!

On this important day in history, Canadians across the country celebrate with parades and public events, most notably in the Queen’s namesake city of Victoria, BC. The Victoria Day Parade is the biggest and best parade of the year in BC’s capital city, featuring 150 entries including, musical floats, marching bands, and reflecting cultural pride.

Sewn Union Jack and Norwegian flag used as a backdrop display at the Royal BC Museum. Made by The Flag Shop Victoria.

Large Union Jack made by The Flag Shop Edmonton
Large 9’x18′ Union Jack and Canadian flag made by The Flag Shop Edmonton – They were used for the funeral procession for Cst. Daniel Woodall, who was killed in the line of duty in 2015.

Declared as a Canadian holiday in 1845, Victoria Day was typically celebrated with fireworks, cannon and gun salutes, and parades. When Queen Victoria died in 1901, Canada’s parliament officially named the holiday Victoria Day. In Quebec, a celebration called La Journée nationale des patriotes takes place on the same day.

According to Canada’s government protocol, on Victoria Day, the Royal Union Flag, more commonly known as the Union Jack, is to be flown at all federal government buildings. This includes crown corporations, military bases and airports.

The Union Jack was first proclaimed by James I in 1606, when he ascended the thrones of both England and Scotland. He pursued the creation of a flag which combined the two crosses of each nation. Then, in 1801, when Ireland joined the United Kingdom, the Cross of St Patrick was added. The Union Jack that we know today consists of three flags: England’s, Scotland’s and Ireland’s. This is the history of the Royal Union Flag.

The Flag Shop has always carried an extensive assortment of Union Jack products. We are proud to supply Canadians across the country celebrating Victoria Day, which is fondly and unofficially known as the beginning of “summer fun.”

If you are planning to attend a Victoria Day event, don’t forget your flag!

Connecting People and Resources to Make a Difference

Kabang to Deliver Upcycled 5-in-1 Multi-Purpose Bag

Everyone knows the 3 R’s: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. This week is Spring cleaning at our shop, so it was perfect timing when Grace Myong stopped in for a visit. Grace is the owner of a new and creative social enterprise called Kabang. Now in the first stages of producing a multi-purpose bag, “The Kitsilano”, Grace uses materials which would otherwise end up in the landfill. Through her connections with Melanie Conn at Common Thread Co-op, Grace was inspired to design and produce her bag out of discarded or unused blockout mesh banners. She had a light bulb moment when she realized blockout mesh from the scraps pile would be perfect for her multi-purpose bag, since it wipes clean and is very durable.

Grace Myong
Grace Myong with our blockout mesh banners taken in The Flag Shop production department.

When our President, Susan Braverman first met Grace, she knew it was the perfect opportunity to create a win-win situation. She said, “It’s my honour to supply Grace’s business, which will upcycle all of our discarded blockout mesh. In fact, it’s a simple matter of doing the right thing.” Adding, “I am so grateful that Grace persisted because together we can accomplish so much more.” At The Flag Shop, we treasure the relationships we build with others and we thrive on the sense of community that comes from nurturing these relationships. This connection is about actively supporting local entrepreneurship by women, while at the same time, doing our part to impact the planet in a positive way.

Blockout Mesh Banners

According to Grace, at first, the purpose of the bag was to address a single need. Living in a small condo, Grace needed something to store recyclables while not taking up too much space. When she was not able to find anything suitable for purchase, she decided to make it herself. In the process, she realized it could be designed to be adaptable, to address more than just one need. As someone who loves cycling, and who does most of the household grocery shopping, she designed the bag to be used for shopping, (convertible to a backpack for heavier loads) and a bicycle pannier. With an active lifestyle, including regular trips to the gym and hot yoga, she designed the bag so that it could also be used as a gym/yoga bag. Asked about starting her own business, Grace said, “Starting a business isn’t easy, and having the support of Common Thread Co-op, and a successful female entrepreneur like Susan, has been a great motivating force for me, to keep working hard, as I get my business off the ground.”

With a 15 year history as an environmental engineer, Grace has seen the amount of waste being sent to our landfills every day, and the harmful impact on our environment. She said, “I am constantly encouraged when I hear about people coming up with innovative solutions to address our planet’s pressing environmental concerns.” Adding, “I am particularly inspired hearing stories about people converting waste into useful products.”

Grace Myong

Grace passionately believes the future of waste reduction and recycling rests with our collective ability to find creative ways to repurpose and redefine what we consider “waste” and how to turn it into something new, useful and even beautiful. The common belief shared by all three women: Grace, Susan and Melanie, is that sustainability is everyone’s business and environmental consciousness is a community affair.

On May 4 United Nations Celebrates 5th Anniversary of Anti-Bullying Day

Catching Up with Grace Fenton of Albert Mines, NB

Five years ago today, in 2012, the United Nations declared May 4 to be the official day for anti-bullying. This important day is observed around the globe in countries like the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and France. To speak up against bullying, many wear pink, blue or purple shirts to visually symbolize unity in helping to put an end to bullying.

In 2014, The Flag Shop first met Grace Fenton and her mother Amy, from Albert Mines, New Brunswick. At the time, Grace was a Grade 7 student who had won an anti-bullying flag design contest. Her design holds a positive message and represents the importance of helping those who are experiencing bullying. The flag was hoisted for the first time in 2014 and later that year, The Flag Shop was granted exclusive rights to use Grace’s design.

Grace Fenton and teacher Ben Kelly display Fenton’s award-winning anti-bullying flag in 2014. (Tori Weldon / CBC)

In honour of the 5th anniversary, Susan thought this would be the perfect opportunity to catch up with Grace to see how she’s been doing. During our conversation, Grace remembered fondly how she created 13 versions of her design before deciding which one to enter into the school contest. She admits experiencing several bullying incidents while in middle school and recalls that through this design effort and contest, overall awareness improved and incidents of bullying became less common. Grateful for the opportunity, Grace was proud to be a part of something that helped students to feel safe to open up and talk. She said, “Talking about bullying is so important so that people who are being bullied know they are not alone. I think if someone is being bullied, it’s hard to open up about it, so when we all talk about the subject, it makes it easier for people to ask for help.”

Grace remembered one day when a shy student approached her to talk because she was being bullied. Grace recalled, “I tried to help her through it. I really believe she felt safe to talk to me because I was known around the school as someone with a clear voice against bullying.” Adding, “Bullying happens every day.  It’s all around us but people just don’t talk about it. You only know it’s happening if you see it with your own eyes. And when you see it, no matter who you are, you have the power to stop it by speaking up.”  What wise words from a teen who experienced bullying and rose above it all to make a positive difference for others! These days, Grace keeps herself very busy and enjoys helping out with the school breakfast program.

At The Flag Shop, many of us have been impacted by bullying, either directly or indirectly, and we are honoured to support this cause, doing everything we can by providing schools and other organizations with the tools and resources to create increased awareness.  We are proud of our school fundraising program, enabling schools to open up important dialogue while raising money for school programming. Grace, we love your awesome design, which we used as the visual focus in all of our anti-bullying products.  Nothing says it better than the creative flair and insight of a caring student from Albert Mines, NB!

Durham Alternative Secondary School, in Oshawa, ON Celebrates Canada 150!

Young Canadians Express National Pride

We are honoured to be part of Canada 150 events with Durham Alternative Secondary School (DASS), who are celebrating for the entire semester! When DASS first contacted us about Canada 150 products, no one could have known what would happen next. It began with invaluable client feedback and quickly and unexpectedly morphed into a chance to be a part of something special!

Durham Alternative Secondary School. Source: Durham District School Board

The Flag Shop President, Susan Braverman, a former public school teacher herself, saw an opportunity to support these students’ efforts by donating a Canada 150 flag. Susan said, “We love supporting our teachers and we recognize that the youth of our nation are the future.” Adding, “It’s heart-warming to know that we not only made things right, but we also made a beautiful connection with the staff and students.”

DASS students posing proudly with their donated Canada 150 flag from The Flag Shop. Source: DASS

DASS is a high school for re-engaged youth in the Durham School District. They recently held a “Decade Door” decorating contest and a celebration luncheon featuring Canadian food. Rosalie Krem, DASS Department Head of Canadian and World Studies and Science, says, “DASS is taking full advantage of this momentous year for all Canadians, to promote the study of Canada’s history.” She adds, “It’s especially meaningful for us, because we find that our students rarely sign up for history courses.”

Decade Doors: 1867-2017. Source: Durham Alternative Secondary School

During a recent day of celebrations, students and teachers took part in a drum call, a smudging ceremony and territorial acknowledgement. And the staff, as the Masters of Ceremonies, impersonated Bob and Doug McKenzie of SCTV fame. Talk about a Canadian event, eh?

They played videos: CBC Canada Video (150 Facts About Canada….in 150 Seconds), Canada 150 video (We’re Canadian….Canada 150 Song) and This Land Is Your Land , all beautiful reflections of what it truly means to be Canadian.

The Flag Shop is the supplier of choice for all your Canada 150 events and celebrations. If your school or organization has a vision for celebrating Canada 150, we offer a full range stock and custom  products to help you mark this historic occasion, while showcasing your own brand.

It’s Canada’s 150th birthday! And that’s a lot of candles!



Happy Earth Day – Saturday, April 22!

Showing Our Support for Environmental Protection

How It All Began
In 1970, after seeing the effects of the 1969 oil spill in Santa Barbara, California, U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson had the idea for a “National Teach-In on the Environment.” He had hoped to assemble and organize the student community, so he chose April 22, falling between Spring Break and final exams. On April 22, 1970, more than 20-million Americans came out to the streets, public spaces and campuses in solidarity to show their support for a sustainable and healthy environment. That same year, the United States Environmental Protection Agency was established and Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species Acts were passed.

Students from Arvada High School in suburban Denver march on the first Earth Day—April 22, 1970. Image credit: Rocky Mountain News

It was two decades later, in 1990, when Earth Day achieved worldwide levels of public engagement, rallying 200 million people in 141 countries, elevating environmental awareness to a global scale. It was Earth Day 1990 that brought new focus to the importance of recycling efforts and helped to pave the way for the United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, in 1992. Today, Earth Day is celebrated by more than a billion people every year.

The Flag Shop Demonstrates Environmental Responsibility
We’re so honoured to partner with our friends at Common Thread Cooperative , a local enterprise that sources street banners and other fabric to convert into colourful and durable products. Common Thread’s main social purpose is creating employment by providing sewing training and production coaching for newcomers to Canada, people living with mental illness and others. Upcycling used banners keeps them out of the landfill and contributes to the livelihood of the people who make them!

Common Thread producers working in The Flag Shop’s production area

We proudly offer GREEN options to our discerning clients who care as much as we do about making a positive difference in preserving the environment. Developed by The Flag Shop, Echotex® is 100% recycled banner fabric which consists of 65% pre-consumer polyester fiber and 35% PET bottles waste. Echotex combines corporate social responsibility with vibrant and durable options for street banners. The City of West Vancouver was the first municipality to use Echotex for their street banners which was for the 2010 Winter Olympics. Since then, dozens of municipalities have chosen to go green by getting their street banners made by The Flag Shop using this fabric.

The City of West Vancouver had these Echotex street banners made and installed by The Flag Shop in 2012

Echotex street banners made and installed by The Flag Shop for the Vancouver Aquarium on the Burrard Street Bridge in 2014

Join us on Earth Day, Saturday April 22nd as we stand together as part of the global community, showing our commitment to ensuring a sustainable environment for future generations.

The Earth flag is available for purchase at The Flag Shop. Show your support by waving it not only tomorrow, but also throughout the year!

The earth is what we all have in common.
-Wendell Berry

The Sikh Community Celebrates Vaisakhi

The Sikh New Year

Sat Sri Akal!

Vaisakhi is a festival which celebrates the founding of the Sikh community, known as the Khalsa. It is celebrated on April 14 each year.

The Flag Shop is proud to serve its diverse range of clients representing cultural community interests, some of whom we have been working with for many years. Clients celebrating Vaisakhi include Gurdwara Sahib Kalgidhar Darbar, in Abbottsford and Sikh Temple Gurdwara, in Chilliwack.  We’ve also had the honour of supplying the Punjabi Market with street banners over the years, to highlight this friendly and colourful district around Main Street and 49th Avenue, and we hear they will be hosting their own Vaisakhi parade, too!

The History of Vaisakhi
On Vaisakhi day in 1699, a guru named Gobind Singh called Sikhs from all across India to the city of Anandpur Sahib. At this gathering, the guru called upon Sikhs to uphold their faith and preserve the Sikh religion. Guru Gobind Singh lifted his sword and asked anyone prepared to give his life for his faith to come forward. One Sikh came forward and followed the guru into a tent. Shortly after, the guru reappeared alone, carrying a sword covered in blood. He asked again. Another Sikh stepped forward. Again, the guru took him into the tent, and reappeared alone, with his sword covered with blood. This was repeated until five Sikhs had offered up their lives in the name of their faith.  In the end, the guru emerged from the tent with five men dressed regally in blue. Guru Gobind Singh called the five Sikhs the Panj Pyare: the Five Beloved Ones.

Panj Pyare. Photo © [S Khalsa] / Source:

The Five Beloved Ones were the first members of the new Sikh community, called the Khalsa.  Khalsa men took the surname of Singh (meaning lion) to represent courage and women took on the surname Kaur (meaning princess) to emphasize dignity.

Khalsa and Vaisakhi celebrations are taking place across Canada, most notably in Calgary, AB , Burlington, ON, Toronto, ON  and Surrey, BC.

Happy Vaisakhi!