Murrawarri Republic, since 2013
The Murrawarri people of Australia declared an independent republic earlier this month. I doubt we’re going to see a new country born any time soon, but we’ve at least gotten an interesting new flag out of it. The brown and blue stripes represent earth and sky, or the people and water. The white star represents ancestral spirits which return to the earth on shooting stars, and it has eight points for the eight Murrawarri clans.
Samoa, since 1949
Samoa’s flag is based on the red ensign that was used during the British-administered League of Nations mandate. When the country became a UN Trust Territory after World War II, it replaced the British flag in the corner with a Southern Cross.
Even though all the overtly foreign symbols are gone, the colonial roots of the flag are still clearly visible. In recent years, opposition MPs have proposed changing the flag for this reason, but the idea hasn’t gotten much traction.
Nunavik (proposed), 2013
A bold proposal for the flag of Nunavik (an Inuit region in northern Quebec) made the news up north last week. There’s a lot of symbolism packed in here so I’ll let the designer explain in his own words:
The logo is based on and inspired from natural elements in Nunavik such as animals and the thriving co-existence of different creatures living in the same area. A shape of a bird with feathers reaching the sky indicate self-governance and freedom, the large wings show strength, the number of feathers correlate with the number of communities in Nunavik, both sides of the shape are symmetric promoting equality, and the dot represent a head and a mind fully supported by the body.
Two sides of the top part contain 5 fingers each as do our hands, the symbol can be seen as a person reaching upwards to pull himself up and forward. The shape is also inspired by caribou antlers growing alongside one another so they may be able to secure the caribou’s life.
I like this a whole lot. I think it’s one of the best pieces of flag design I’ve seen in ages. It feels almost like an Inuit version of Japanese logo-based flag design. Very striking, very unique, and I think it would look great up on a flagpole.
(designer: Thomassie Mangiok)
Nova Scotia, since 1858
Nova Scotia has the oldest provincial flag in Canada (older than the country itself!) but it will only become official this year, thanks largely to the efforts of a grade 5 student. 11-year-old Regan Parker discovered during a research project that the flag of Nova Scotia had never been recognized by the provincial legislature. She brought the oversight up to her local MLA and he introduced the Provincial Flag Act, which passed its Third Reading this past Thursday.
The flag is a banner of Nova Scotia’s coat of arms, first granted all the way back in 1625. Other provinces have heraldic banners for flags, but Nova Scotia is the only one that never bothered with any kind of official authorization. Instead the public just kind of started using it on their own, beginning with the Nova Scotia Philanthropic Society in 1858 and continuing more or less uninterrupted to the present day.
Ascension Island, since 2013
Four years after it started looking for one, Ascension finally has a flag of its own. The tiny South Atlantic island forms a single overseas territory with Saint Helena (1300km away) and Tristan da Cunha (3200km away). Until the flag raising on Saturday, it was the last British possession without a flag (excluding the Sovereign Base Areas on Cyprus).
The final version is a lot like the proposal I reported last year, but the scroll has been removed and a helmet with green and white mantling has been added.
Governor of Alabama, since 1939
The governor of Alabama flies the state flag defaced with the state coat of arms and military crest. The arms are a composite of five flags: French, Castilian, British, Confederate, and American.
Royal Canadian Navy, 1968-2013 (jack), since 2013 (ensign)
The navy did a little flag switcheroo on Sunday, making the former naval jack into a naval ensign, and the national flag (which had previously been used as an ensign) into a naval jack. For those of you not up on your naval terminology, the jack is the flag flown at the front of the ship while the ensign is usually flown at the back. The new changes will make it easier to distnguish warships from other Canadian vessels.
Prince of Wales (personal Canadian flag), since 2012
Prince Charles has his own flag for use in Canada, first used during his royal tour of the country last year. It consists of the Canadian banner of Arms with the Prince’s ostrich-feather insignia at the centre, surrounded by a garland of maple leaves. The white stripe at the top with three tabs is a heraldic device called a label, which signifies the son of a monarch.
Today is Cinco de Mayo, a holiday which commemorates the Mexican victory at the Battle of Puebla. This is obviously a big deal in the state Puebla, which proudly carries the date right in the middle of its coat of arms.
Like most all Mexican sates, Puebla has no official flag. Instead a white field with the state coat of arms on it is widely used.
Podlaskie, since 2002
The colours of the Podlaskie flag come from the Polish eagle and the Lithuanian Vytis on its coat of arms. Coincidentally, Lithuania itself considered using a gold-red-white flag in the 1940s.
The first flag of Chicago had only two stars, one for the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, and one for the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893. And yes, they were shifted to the side like that. It’s almost as if they knew they were going to be adding two more.
Toronto Maple Leafs (unofficial)
It’s playoff season, which means the whole city of Toronto is going hockey crazy. As I’ve been walking around town, I’ve been seeing Maple Leafs flags flying all over. There are actually a whole bunch of different designs, but this one is by far the coolest. It takes the Canadian flag and gives it a Toronto coat of paint.
The Netherlands, 17th century-1795, 1806-1810, since 1815
The Dutch flag is one of the oldest and most influential in the world. When it was first adopted in the 16th century it had an orange stripe on top, but the orange dyes used at the time tended to fade to red, and by the 1630s most new flags were red, white, and blue.
It’s generally thought that the flag of the Netherlands was the main inspiration for Russia’s white-blue-red tricolour. The Russian flag in turn inspired the pan-Slavic colours, which can be found on the flags of Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia. So in a roundabout way, all those countries ultimately owe their national flags to the instability of 16th century orange dyes.
Today is the last day that Prince Willem-Alexander will be using this standard, which features the bugle-horn of the House of Orange-Nassau and the castle of the House of Amsberg. Tomorrow he will be crowned King of the Netherlands (the first since 1890) and adopt his mother’s old royal standard. His brothers Friso and Constantijn will continue flying the princely standard.
The city of Spokane has had three wildly different flags in its history. The first was a sharp minimalist blue and white flag, the second was a detailed drawing of the city on a lilac background, and the third was a very seventies-looking design which included blue and white diagonal stripes. The one all three flags have in common is the sun. This is a reference to the Spokane tribe, whose name means “Children of the Sun.”
The most recent flag lay unused and forgotten for decades before being revived by the current mayor. It’s a shame he didn’t dig a bit further and revive this first one. The current flag has a bit of a charm to it, but the original definitely the best of all three.