Flag of Newfoundland and Labrador
|Use||Civil and state flag|
|Adopted||June 6, 1980|
|Designed by||Christopher Pratt|
The Flag of Newfoundland and Labrador was introduced in 1980, and was designed by Newfoundland artist Christopher Pratt. The flag design, with the proportions 2:1, was approved by the House of Assembly of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, on May 28, 1980. It was flown for the first time on Discovery Day; June 24, 1980.
The design was chosen due to its broad symbolism. The blue colour represents the sea, the white colour represents snow and ice of winter, the red colour represents the effort and struggle of Newfoundlanders, and the gold colour symbolizes the confidence Newfoundlanders have in themselves and for the future.
The blue triangles are meant as a tribute to the Union Jack, and stand for the British heritage of Newfoundland. The two red triangles are meant to represent the two areas of the province—the mainland and the island. The gold arrow, according to Pratt, points towards a "brighter future"; the arrow becomes a sword, honouring the sacrifices of Newfoundlanders in military service when the flag is draped as a vertical banner. The red triangles and the gold arrow form a trident, symbolizing the province's dependence on its fisheries and the resources of the sea.
The Red Ensign was officially endorsed by King Charles II in 1674; this authorisation recognised it as the ensign of English merchant shipping. Later, during the Victorian era, the flag—with colonial badge—formed the basis as the Colony of Newfoundland's civil ensign. Old oil paintings show red ensigns flying from the topmasts of Grand Banks schooners. While 19th century photographs show red ensigns flown at Moravian mission stations and Hudson's Bay Company trading posts along the Labrador Coast.
In 1904, the British Parliament designated a civil ensign specifically for Newfoundland. The Red and Blue Ensigns with the Great Seal of Newfoundland in the fly were the dominion's official flags from 1904 until 1931, after which the Union Jack was adopted as Newfoundland's official national flag and the ensigns reserved for shipping and marine identification—the Red Ensign to be flown by merchant shipping while the blue was flown by governmental ships. Neither ensign was immediately formally adopted by the Newfoundland National Assembly, which sat at the Colonial Building in St. John's, when Newfoundland became an independent Dominion of the British Empire in 1907. It was not until the Newfoundland National Flag Act of 1931 that the Newfoundland parliament officially adopted the Union Jack as the national flag of Newfoundland and re-affirmed the red and blue ensigns as official flags for marine identification. Between 1907 and 1931, however, the red ensign gained wide enough use, both at sea and on land by civilians and government alike, that it was considered to be the national flag.
The badge in the ensigns consists of Mercury, the god of commerce and merchandise, presenting to Britannia a fisherman who, in a kneeling attitude, is offering the harvest of all the sea. Above the device in a scroll are the Latin words 'Terra Nova', and below the motto Hæc Tibi Dona Fero or "These gifts I bring thee." The seal was redesigned by Adelaine Lane, niece of Governor Sir Cavendish Boyle.
The old flag of Newfoundland was the Union Flag. It was legally adopted in 1931 and used as Newfoundland's national flag until confederation with Canada in 1949. It was then readopted as the official provincial flag in 1952, and used officially until 1980. The Newfoundland and Labrador branch of the Royal Canadian Legion to this day displays the Union Flag as an official flag, contending that Newfoundland soldiers fought under the Union Flag of the dominion, not the current provincial or national (Canadian) flags.
An unofficial (but popular) flag presented in recent years as the "Newfoundland Tricolour" or "Pink, White and Green" is the flag of the Roman Catholic fraternal organization the Star of the Sea Association. The flag has the proportions 2:1 with each stripe occupying equal thirds of the flag length. It exists in Canadian heraldry; its trice is present in the flag of the St. John's Fire Department and in the municipal flag of Paradise, Newfoundland and Labrador. It also appears on the crests or escutcheons of some armorial bearings portrayed in the Public Register of Arms, Flags and Badges of Canada. Many consider this flag to support Newfoundland independence.
The origins of the "Pink, White and Green" are obscure. Popular legend had it that it came into being in the 1840s, but recent scholarship suggests it was first used in the 1870s or later by the Roman Catholic fraternal organization the "Star of the Sea" association and became more widely used by other St. John's and surrounding area Catholic groups shortly thereafter. Given that, it was likely based on the similar flag of Ireland (then also unofficial). It is also said that the current Republic of Ireland flag is actually based off the Newfoundland tricolour! A "native flag" was displayed in public ceremonies alongside the Union Jack when the Prince of Wales visited St. John's in 1860, but that was likely a red, white and green flag rather than the "Pink, White and Green" as is commonly believed. The tricolour flag was superannuated as a potential officially recognized flag when the British Parliament legislated a civil ensign for Newfoundland in 1904, which was a Red Ensign defaced with the Great Seal of Newfoundland. During the provincial flag debates of the 1970s an edition of the Roman Catholic archdiocese's newsletter "The Monitor" forwarded the idea that the flag is symbolic of a tradition between local ethnically-English Protestants (represented by the rose colour) and ethnically-Irish Catholics (represented by the green). The vert was said to represent the flag of Brian Boru, the rose symbolized the Rose of England and the argent represented the peace between them, or the Cross of Saint Andrew. This legend is unlikely, however, as neither the Rose of England nor the Tudor Rose is pink, and the Newfoundland Natives' Society, which was claimed in the legend as being a Protestant society which used a pink flag, actually contained Catholics as well as Protestants, including a Catholic president at the supposed time of the inception of the "Pink, White and Green". Pink has never been used in any known fashion to represent England, its people or any of the Protestant denominations. In another version of the legend, originating around 1900, it was claimed that the green represented newly arriving Irish settlers to Newfoundland and pink was again taken from the Natives' Society flag, but this time the Natives' Society was said to be a Roman Catholic group representing Catholics already living in Newfoundland. Protestants were not included at all. The latest interpretation of the supposed symbolism of the "Pink, White and Green" seems to have arisen in the 1970s during provincial flag debates in Newfoundland as an effort to gain Protestant support for an Irish-based flag - Protestants representing 60% of the province's population - but it is unlikely to be a factual account of history. The flag gained a sentimental resurgence in the 1990s/2000s both as a political statement and on products aimed at the tourism industry.
The flag of the Fédération des Francophones de Terre-Neuve et du Labrador is based on the French tricolour and Acadian flag, with three unequal panels of blue, white, and red. Two yellow sails are set on the line between the white and red panels. The sail on top is charged with a spruce twig, while the bottom sail is charged with a pitcher flower. These emblems are outlined in black.
The sails represent early Basque, Breton, and French fishermen that came to the area in 1504. At the same time, they are symbols of action and progress. The yellow is taken from the star of the Acadian flag. The spruce twig is the emblem of Labrador and is also found on the Labrador flag. Newfoundland and Labrador's provincial flower is the insect-eating pitcher plant.
The Labrador Flag was created by the Member of the House of Assembly for Labrador South, Mike Martin in 1974. Martin did so as an affront of political mischief aimed at Joey Smallwood and his indifference to Labrador. As Martin is from Cartwright, the town now proclaims itself the "Birthplace of the Labrador Flag". The flag was presented to Labrador community councils, and to the Labrador members of the House of Assembly, in April 1974.
The self-governing Inuit region of Nunatsiavut has its own flag: The flag of Nunatsiavut is the flag adopted by the Labrador Inuit Association to represent the Inuit of Labrador and their new Land Claims Settlement Area called Nunatsiavut. The flag features the traditional Inuit Inukshuk coloured white, blue, and green echoing the flag of Labrador.
- Some Personal Observations And Some Historical Facts About The Labrador Flag (Carl S. Gurtman, 1996, New England Journal of Vexillology)
- Arms and flag of Newfoundland and Labrador in the online Public Register of Arms, Flags and Badges
- About Newfoundland and Labrador - Provincial Flag
- Alistair B. Fraser, Flags of Canada, 1998.
- "Historic Flags of Newfoundland (Canada)". October 2005. Retrieved 2010-06-22.
- Newfoundland Historical Society, A Short History of Newfoundland and Labrador, St. John's, NL, Boulder Publications, 2008.
- Paul O'Neill, "Around and About", The Monitor, July 1976, pp. 11-12.
- "Representative Government, 1832-1855". Retrieved 2010-06-29.
- "Newfoundland Flags". Retrieved 2010-07-20.
- "Statistics Canada: Population by religion, by province and territory (2001 Census)". Archived from the original on 2011-08-10. Retrieved 2010-06-22.
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