The Commonwealth Observer

Fiji is thinking Canada as it ponders merit of replacing its national flag

Murray Burt
Written by Murray Burt

Fiji is pondering the replacement of its national flag, and proponents are citing Canada’s abandonment of its Old Red Duster with the Union Jack in the corner.

They want to rid the country of a constant reminder of its colonial past and this has caused little mourning, but the emblem’s designer may shed some tears.

Tessa Mackenzie, who won a competition to create the nation’s flag when it won independence from the UK in 1970, has maintained that people still love the flag and “feel really proud of it”.

“I find it very difficult to envisage what they can choose which will be appropriate and relevant for everybody,” she said.

Flag experts have said the change was inevitable. Clive Cheesman, an official at the College of Arms, the UK’s official heraldic authority, told The Independent: “Some may say it’s bad that it’s going. We’re not going to regret its passing, it’s of its era and that era came to an end in 1987  [the year that Fiji was expelled from the Commonwealth].”

.A new flag will be chosen through another national competition and will be revealed on the 45th anniversary of independence on 10 October, with Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama saying it should “reflect Fiji’s position as a modern and truly independent nation state.”

Mr Cheesman pointed to Canada’s maple leaf emblem as a successful change from a colonial flag. “They wanted to move away from that and reached a happy conclusion.”

Sources: Nick Clark; The Independent

Photo credit: sandwich / cc

About the author

Murray Burt

Murray Burt

Murray Burt has been a journalist for nearly 60 years, starting as a cadet reporter in New Zealand, and doing two stints with wire services on Fleet Street before settling in Canada in the newspaper business. He is a retired managing editor of the Winnipeg Free Press, and former city and national editor of The Globe and Mail in Toronto. He is a past-president of the CJA and has been a life member since 2003, participating in each of its conferences and CPU’s conferences since 1990. He is a director of the Advisory Council of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, based in New Delhi; president of Manitoba’s newly-reconstituted Royal Commonwealth Society; and has directorships in the Duke of Edinburgh Awards and the Canadian Forces Liaison Council (western Canada).

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