While it’s generally the mayor’s privilege to hoist a flag at City Hall, Mayor Christian Provenzano handed that honour over to Councillors Shoemaker, Myers, and Hupponen Tuesday for the inaugural raising of the City of Sault Ste. Marie’s new official flag.
“I shouldn’t be given any credit for this,” said Mayor Provenzano during his address. “It’s important to give credit where credit is due.”
The credit goes to not only the aforementioned city councillors, but additional members of the municipal flag committee, including Ian McMillan from Tourism Sault Ste. Marie, city Corporate Affairs Officer Lori Ballstadt, Deputy City Clerk Rachel Tyczinski, and “the genius of the committee” Kelly Buller from Public Works and Transportation.
“It is my hope that our new flag will become more than a logo on a cloth… but that the history of Sault Ste. Marie will be written under our new flag, and that the flag will become the symbol of a community that continues to innovate and improve, that marches forward in the face of adversity, and that most especially, a symbol of civic pride,” said Ward 3 Councillor Matthew Shoemaker, chair the municipal flag committee.
The new flag design, approved by city council this past January, includes an updated version of the city’s familiar “Naturally Gifted” emblem.
It was one of 25 designs submitted for consideration.
Our new banner was raised in celebration of the Corporation of the City of Sault Ste. Marie’s 104th anniversary which officially takes place on April 16.
The following is a letter submitted by Councillor Shoemaker to mark the occasion of today's flag raising:
Let the history of Sault Ste. Marie be written under our new flag
Gilbert Baker, the designer of the Rainbow Flag once said, “a flag is something that’s really different than any other form of art — it’s not a painting, it’s not just cloth, it is not a logo. It functions in so many ways, it’s interpreted in so many different ways.”
In Canada, we as a nation experienced the emotion of a new flag on February 15, 1965, when, after 210 days of debate in Parliament, the Maple Leaf was hoisted above Centre Block for the first time.
Though at the time of its unveiling, former Prime Minister John Diefenbaker quipped that, “It is a flag without a past, without history, without honour and without pride,” the Maple Leaf became not just the Flag of Canada, but a symbol of national pride.
It is more than a red maple leaf between two red bars; it represents peace, kindness and respect. It is hoped that today, April 12, 2016, will mark a similar opportunity, on a smaller scale, to that day in 1965.
Not only is today the 104th anniversary of the founding of Sault Ste. Marie as a City, today is the day when Sault Ste. Marie will hoist, for the first time in its history, a flag that will hopefully one day become a symbol of Sault Ste. Marie so immediately recognizable that it transforms from being the Flag of Sault Ste. Marie, to an embodiment of all that is great about Sault Ste. Marie.
It is my hope that our new flag will become more than a logo on a cloth, as Baker described it, but that the history of Sault Ste. Marie will be written under our new flag; that the flag will become a symbol of a community that continues to innovate and improve, that marches forward in the face of adversity, and especially, a symbol of civic pride.
It has been suggested by some that a new flag is not a priority, and that it is a waste of taxpayer dollars.
Allow me to briefly address these points: First, nobody would disagree that there are significant issues to deal with in Sault Ste. Marie; our local industry is suffering, and Council must help guide the economy through its necessary transformation.
We as Council are focused on these issues, and working with all levels of government to make sure appropriate action is taken.
The economic issues are being and will continue to be addressed, but Council can also continue to advance our City’s cultural footprint and that is what this new flag helps achieve.
Second: this flag was designed a graphic designer employed by the City whose job description includes creating signage throughout the City.
The new flag has not cost taxpayers one additional dollar from the City’s budget.
So today, as we fly our Sault Ste. Marie flag for the first time, let us feel hope, pride, and loyalty to our community, and let us smile upon the fact that Sault Ste. Marie is not just a “Naturally Gifted” community, but most importantly, that Sault Ste. Marie is our community.
— Matthew Shoemaker Sault Ste. Marie City Councillor