While listening to the radio several years ago, Marga van den Hogen noted the announcer talked about Valentine’s Day and Family Day, but failed to make mention of a day falling in between that she holds near and dear: National Flag of Canada Day.
“I thought, what’s the matter with Flag Day?” the Thornhill resident recalled. “I’m only one person but I wanted to do something about it.”
So in 2009, van den Hogen formed Flag Flyers, a group dedicated to raising awareness about Canada’s flag through visits to schools and seniors homes.
And for someone who feels as passionately as she does about her country’s flag, she can regularly be seen handing out pins and flags to people she meets on the street, always eager to spread the word about the maple leaf surrounded by red and white.
“The flag is so unique and distinctive and very Canadian,” she said. “If I’m out of the country and I see the flag, I feel at home. Fly your flag, be a proud Canadian.”
Flag Day is marked annually Feb. 15, ever since the flag first flew over Parliament Hill in Ottawa on that day in 1965.
Van den Hogen, who was born in Holland, said the Canadian flag is more than just something fluttering in the wind.
“It gives us peace and unity,” she said.
In honour of Flag Day, van den Hogen, along with Boy Scouts, will be handing out pins, flags and Flag Day info Sunday, Feb. 10 to parishioners at Blessed Trinity Church, 3220 Bayview Ave., north of Finch Avenue.
She also stopped in to hear the Oriana Women’s Choir rehearse at North Toronto Collegiate Institute Tuesday, Feb. 5 for their show March 2 at Grace Church on-the-Hill, 300 Lonsdale Rd., titled Canada Sings - A Celebration of Our Heritage.
Former North York resident Leo Marchildon spent 20 years working in the United States and noticed Americans seem to take considerably more pride in their flag than Canadians.
“In America, their flag flies proudly at every street corner,” said the Flag Flyers member. “You don’t see that as often here as you do there.”
The film composer, who splits his time between the States and Prince Edward Island, where he is music director for St. Dunstan’s Basilica in Charlottetown and the diocese of the entire province, said Canadians tend to be aware of Canada Day but not Flag Day.
“It falls at an awkward placement in the year and is perpetually glazed over,” Marchildon said. “We’re not pushing for a statutory holiday, we just want people to take a moment and recognize the flag and be proud Canadians.”