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A New Flag for Edmonton


Staff member
Member Bio
Sep 22, 2015
Reaction score
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
From Dov Iveson's blog (

If you’re not familiar with Edmonton’s current flag, don’t worry – most people aren’t.

Here’s what it looks like:

At Council today I put forward a motion asking city staff to collect public input on our current flag, as well as specifically collect feedback on Ryan McCourt’s flag design, presented by the Confederacy of Treaty 6 First Nations at Treaty recognition Day at City Hall. Here’s Ryan’s flag design:

Ryan’s flag was part of an art contest adjudicated by First Nations leaders on the theme of Treaty 6 day, a design that is drawn from the text of the treaty, which reminds Settlers and First Nations beneficiaries that the Treaty is not time-limited, but enduring “as long as the sun shines, as long as the grass grows, and as long as the river flows.”

Though I love the symbolism of our current flag, its design has been often critiqued. When we turned a crest into a flag, we sacrificed readability and simplicity. There was an excellent TED talk about flag design from a few years ago that uncorked a continuing discussion in Edmonton about updating this important symbol of our city. In this talk, Mr. Mars suggests there are five basic symbols of good flag design:

  1. Keep it Simple.
  2. Use Meaningful Symbolism.
  3. Use Two or Three Basic Colours.
  4. No Lettering or Seals/Coats of Arms.
  5. Be Distinctive.
It’s fair to say our current flag design doesn’t exactly check many of these boxes.

It’s important to note that I am not suggesting that we change the city’s crest, which is rich in meaning and symbolism. In fact, it’s one of my favourite features when I’m touring guests around City Hall.

But the flag serves a different purpose in the life of a city.

My motion is meant to get the conversation going about what’s right for our city, and I’m not presuming the outcome. I’d like to hear from people on their views on the current flag and their views on Mr. McCourt’s flag. His design represents an important kind of symbolism: Reconciliation with First Nations, Metis and Inuit Canadians. Edmonton is leading a national conversation about reconciliation, and reassessing the symbols we use to represent ourselves is part of that journey.

For background, I asked Ryan to share some insights into his concept, starting with the purple sky:

1. Generally, the colour purple traditionally symbolizes courage and authority.

  1. A purple sky (along with a rising sun) represents the dazzling auroral light that signals a new day dawning, symbolizing positive beginnings and bright futures.
  1. The purple colour (along with the whole colour scheme of the flag) is carried over directly from Edmonton’s current flag, as seen in the mostly-purple escutcheon (shield) of the City of Edmonton coat of arms. This shared colour scheme serves as an element of clear continuity between the current flag and the proposed new design.
  1. The flag design also shares the traditional colour palette of Edmonton’s official City Tartan, which specifically includes purple as one of Edmonton’s official colours.
It’s important to to be respectful of the continuity of distinctive traditional elements and colours when attempting to redesign heritage symbols like a civic flag, so I’ve taken my cues from the existing official symbolism entirely.”

Ryan’s design observes the design principles Mr. Mars outlined in his TED Talk, and its symbolism is important. But I think it’s time we talked about our flag, and I’m interested to know what you think.
Mayor hoists new flag idea up the pole to see if it will fly with public
Mayor Don Iveson fell in love with a flag — a gift to him from Treaty 6 chiefs — and now he wants to know if the rest of Edmonton might fly it, too.

He has been mulling what to do for months and this week officially hoisted the idea up the flagpole. Next council meeting, he’ll ask colleagues to commission staff and see if this new yellow sun, purple sky, and blue-green river valley will capture the heart and minds of residents.

“I think there’s some beauty to it,” Iveson said of the flag by artist Ryan McCourt, which he calls a gesture of reconciliation. It blends symbols from Edmonton’s coat of arms and the text of Treaty 6. “It says we’re all going to benefit from this treaty as long as the sun shines, as long as the grass grows and as long as the river flows.”

Full Story (Edmonton Journal)

Iveson proposes Edmonton debate new flag, highlights reconciliation
Flag designer Ryan McCourt isn’t keen to be in the spotlight — he doesn’t want to overshadow the gift that could be Edmonton’s new flag.

“It doesn’t matter who designed it,” McCourt said. “The idea of it being presented from the grand chief to the mayor seems more like an important thing.”

Mayor Don Iveson has tasked city administration to collect feedback on McCourt’s flag, which was presented by the Confederacy of Treaty 6 First Nations earlier this year.

City staff will also collect feedback on the city’s current flag, which bears Edmonton’s coat of arms.

Full Story (Metro Edmonton)
I don't see how that represents Edmonton really. There are many unique symbols of Edmonton that could be included in the flag, including the Muttart Conservatory's pyramids, the river valley, the refineries, festivals. I wonder what a flag that incorporated at least one of those symbols would look like.
Don Iveson wants to raise a new flag for the city
Edmonton mayor Don Iveson wants to see the city's official flag changed.

The mayor put forward a motion on Tuesday at city council for city staff to find out what the public has to say about a new flag for the city.

The current flag is more than 20 years old.

It features the city's coat of arms, and elements like Athena, the Goddess of Wisdom, to represent education and the University of Alberta, and a winged wheel to recognize Edmonton's aviation history.

Iveson has already said he favours a design by Edmonton artist Ryan McCourt.
McCourt's flag was submitted as part of an art contest on the theme of Treaty 6 Recognition Day, and features important First Nations imagery.

It also represents some of the text of Treaty 6, which says the Treaty endures "as long as the sun shines, as long as the grass grows, and as long as the river flows."

Full Story (CBC Edmonton)
I appreciate the allusion to treaty six imagery, but this design doesn't cut it for me -- it is not well balanced, graphically speaking, and it is too primitive. Surely we can do better! And there must be more to Edmonton's make-up than one not-so-well-adhered-to treaty.
The recent announcement in both the Journal and the Sun re new Energy Projects that help diversify the Edmonton regional economy highlights the need for a more inclusive flag imagery for the City -- Edmonton's flag should reflect the notion of economic diversity as well as the natural assets (river valley etc.) Incidentally, as these projects break ground, the recession should begin to recede and focus on Edmonton's downtown growth should become a stable event, garnering more investment in large mixed use projects.
Paula Simons: A flap over city flag may be more than voters can bear
Don’t get in a flap. But Edmonton’s flag debate is about to resume.

Wait. Are you telling me you don’t care about the debate over whether to replace Edmonton’s old-fashioned 50-year-old flag with a new banner?

You’re not alone. To judge by a new report, which will be presented to the community services committee of city council Monday, Edmontonians don’t give a flying flag about the issue.

Only seven members of the public bothered to respond to a recent online survey about replacing the city’s official flag. (And since I was one of them, that means only six “real” people weighed in.)

The city did gather another 1,638 responses from its Edmonton Insight Community, a pre-selected group of Edmontonians who care about civic issues and love to answer online surveys.

But even they — the keenest of the keen — seemed unmoved by the question.
Iveson proposes city fly Métis, Treaty 6 flags all the time
Edmonton won’t be getting a new city flag anytime soon, after city council members quashed plans Monday to pursue the idea further.

City councillors discussed survey findings at the community and public services committee Monday that show Edmontonians are split on redesigning the city flag.

Two flags were on the table: one designed by Ryan McCourt, which highlights reconciliation with Indigenous communities, and Edmonton’s current flag.

But the survey, which showed only 48 per cent of respondents supported a redesign, had Mayor Don Iveson re-thinking his original proposal to see Edmonton adopt McCourt’s flag.

Edmonton debates adding Indigenous flags to city hall grounds
The City of Edmonton is looking to add two more flagpoles outside city hall to fly the Treaty 6 and Metis flags alongside the three existing flags.

This is to recognize that Edmonton sits on land that is traditional Métis and Treaty 6 First Nations territory, said Mayor Don Iveson.

It's important to "tangibly acknowledge the traditional territory and founding peoples of this place," Iveson said.

The two additional flags will join the three that currently fly outside city hall: the city flag, the Canadian flag and the Alberta flag.

Edmonton won’t be getting a new municipal flag, for now

Edmonton nixes idea of new city flag, may add flags for Treaty 6, Metis