What the Survivors’ Flag raised on Parliament Hill today signifies…

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, was joined today by the Executive Director of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR), Stephanie Scott, the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, Marc Miller, and Survivors from across the country to raise the Survivors’ Flag on Parliament Hill.

This flag will fly in memory of the 150,000 Indigenous children who were forcibly separated from their families and communities to be sent to residential schools. It will honour the Survivors, their families, the communities whose lives were forever changed, and those who never came home, the PMO said in a news release.

The orange and white Survivors’ Flag was designed by the NCTR in consultation with Survivors from across Canada as an expression of remembrance and to be shared with all Canadians. It features nine distinct elements, each with a special meaning. The symbols are explained below.

The Family
Some saw the adults as our ancestors watching over us; others saw these as parents signifying whole families ripped apart and also reuniting to represent healing.

The Children
More than one child is depicted in the design as often whole sibling groups were taken from their parents, younger siblings, grandparents, and community.

The Seeds Below Ground
Represent the spirits of the children who never returned home. Although they have always been present, they are now seen and searched for.

Tree of Peace
Haudenosaunee symbol of how nations were united and brought to peace, which in turn, provides protection, comfort and renewal.

Cedar Branch
Sacred medicine that represents protection and healing, but also what is used by some Indigenous cultures when one enters the physical world and then again when they pass on to the next (i.e. medicine bath). The seven branches acknowledges the seven sacred teachings taught in many Indigenous cultures.

Cosmic Symbolism
Represents Sun, Moon, Stars and Planets. The Sun represents the divine protection that ensure those who survived came home. The North Star is prominent as it is an important navigation guide for many Indigenous cultures.

The Métis Sash
The Sash is a prominent ceremonial regalia worn with pride. Certain colours of thread represent lives that were lost, while others signal connectedness as humans and resilience through trauma. All the threads woven together spell out part of history, but no single thread defines the whole story.

The Eagle Feather
The Eagle Feather represents that the Creator’s spirit is among us. It is depicting pointing upwards which mirrors how it is held when one speaks their Truth.

The Inuksuit
Inuksuit are used as navigational guides for Inuit people and link to tradition.

The flag will fly near West Block and the Visitor Welcome Centre on Parliament Hill until 2024, when a decision will be made to find its permanent home.

The Survivors’ Flag was first raised on Parliament Hill in 2021, at a special ceremony to mark the inaugural National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.



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