African Union, since 2010
Unlike its European counterpart, the African Union went with a one-star-per-member approach, resulting in a massive ring of 53 stars. Then, barely a year after the flag was adopted, a newly-independent South Sudan became the 54th member of the AU. Whoops.
Still a great looking flag, even if it’s a bit out of date.
(designer: Yadesa Bojia)
The Men From Snowy River, 1916
This flag was carried on one of Australia’s many recruitment or “snowball” marches, named for the hope that they would gather men like a snowball rolling down a hill. The recruits that joined up with this particular snowball march were appropriately called “Snowies.”
The march started in Delegate, New South Wales on 6 January 1916. Three weeks and 350km later, 144 recruits arrived in Goulburn, 39 of which would die over the course of the war.
The flag is an interesting one, a British Red Ensign with an Australian Red Ensign tucked into its top-right corner. So you’ve got a quarter-size Union Jack right next to a tiny little sixteenth-size Union Jack. You can see an amazing photograph of the original on the Australian War Memorial’s website.
Several Commonwealth militaries have a tricolour flag that looks something like this. The red stripe stands for the army, the light blue stripe stands for the air force, and the dark blue stripe stands for the navy. Kenya’s version has the national flag in the top-left corner and a combined insignia of army, navy, and air force symbols on the fly.
Curiously, the ribbon on this image says “Kenya Armed Forces” instead of “Kenya Defence Forces”. I don’t know if it’s an old version of the flag or just a mistaken rendition or what.
The Styrian flag is the only one I know of that features a panther. No, not the black jungle cat, the weird pale horned firebreathing goat creature of ancient legend. Those ancients sure came up with some weird shit.
Tlicho, since 2005
The Tlicho are a First Nations people living in the Canadian Northwest Territories. Their autonomous government, established by the 2005 Tlicho Agreement, manages an area nearly as big as Switzerland with just 3000 residents.
They’ve got a great flag up their, and you can see a bunch of pictures of it on their government website. The four tents on the flag represent the four Tlicho communities. The sun and the waves represent the words of the Chief Monfwi when he signed Treaty No. 11:
This sun that rises, if it does not go back on itself, this Great River that flows, if it does not flow back on itself, on this land, we will not be restricted from our way of life.
For as long as this land shall last, it will be exactly as I have said.
The proper way to spell their name, by the way, is Tłı̨chǫ. Count yourself lucky if your computer rendered that properly.
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.
Ontario (unofficial), 1962-1965
When the Garden of the Provinces in Ottawa was opened in 1962, a set of unofficial flags were made to represent the country’s provinces and territories. Each flag had a provincial shield on a plain coloured background. The colours were arbitrary. Some were white, some red, some blue; PEI’s was green and Ontario’s was yellow. The flags soon spread beyond the garden and effectively became unofficial provincial flags.
Already in 1962 there were four provinces with flags of their own. By the end of the decade every province had one. But despite provincial reservations, the federal government continued flying the plain coloured flags until the mid 1970s. When Alberta finally adopted its flag in 1968 it just went with the plain blue flag from Ottawa, making it the last survivor of a weird and somewhat unloved group of Canadian flag designs.
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)
Just in case you were wondering, this flag belongs to THE GOVERNOR.
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.
University of North Texas, since 1986
This is a variation on the Texas state flag done up in UNT’s green and white colour scheme. It was first created as a decorative item for the university president’s podium, and it can be now be seen flying around campus.
(designer: Jim Hobdy)
Royal Canadian Navy (proposed ensign), 1960s.
The naval ensign I posted about yesterday is the first unique one in Canadian history, but another one was proposed decades earlier. The flag would have been like the British white ensign (which Canadian ships were flying at the time) but with the British flag replaced by three red maple leaves.
The designer, Alan Beddoe, was an accomplished Canadian herald who created the coat of arms of Yukon and the Northwest Territories, over 180 ship badges, the arms for numerous universities and municipalities, and Lester B. Pearson’s three-leaved national flag proposal in 1964. His drawing of the Canadian coat of arms was the official version from 1957 until 1994. (And randomly he went to my high school.)
(designer: Alan Beddoe)