The Kitimat Chamber of Commerce has decided to do a virtual flag raising ceremony, as the in-person one this year was cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Laurel D’Andrea said they wanted to find a way to keep the ceremony going this year, even with all the social distancing regulations in place, because diversity is so important to Kitimat.
“The purpose of the ceremony is having a sense of pride that Kitimat is so multicultural and is so diverse,” D’Andrea said. “That’s what Kitimat is based on.”
The ceremony usually includes the raising of the flags, playing of the Canadian national anthem, and some words from local dignitaries. The ceremony this year will be fairly similar, according to D’Andrea, except for the fact that it will be in digital.
The ceremony has been happening for over 40 years, according to Raymond Raj, the president of the Kitimat Multicultural Society. The ceremony includes the flags of Kitimat, B.C., Canada, and countries all around the world, many of which slowly joined year after year, growing to 25 flags as of 2020.
“We called upon all ethnic groups in Kitimat and asked them [if they wanted to] purchase a pole there, at the Heritage Park, and that’s when we are going to raise the flag of their country…to honour their old country and their new country,” Raj said. “When you have pride in your own country and everyone else has a flag, of course you should have one.”
The video will include the raising of the flags and will have ‘O Canada’ playing over it. D’Andrea said that, in place of the dignitaries speaking, each dignitary submitted in 25 words or fewer why they feel multiculturalism is important in the community.
The pictures and responses of the dignitaries will be placed intermittently between the different flags being raised. Dignitaries this year will include Kitimat mayor Phil Germuth, Skeena MLA Ellis Ross, Haisla Nation Chief Councillor Crystal Smith, President of Kitimat Multicultural Society Raymond Raj, President of Chamber of Commerce Daniel Chimko, and Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Taylor Bachrach.
D’Andrea said the ceremony will be posted on the Chamber website, their Facebook page, the CityWest Community TV website, and will also be sent out to the school district to give teachers the opportunity to share it during their virtual learning.