From Many Peoples, Strength

by Josiah Audette

The following is a letter I wrote out of concern for the raising of the Rainbow flag on the provincial legislature grounds during the Sochi Olympics. It was sent to the premier, my representative MLA, and local media. As the motto of this blog reiterates from Alexis de Toqueville’s observation of America’s people, we as citizens must be, “Aware of the past, curious about the future, ready to argue the present.” Lord Blackstone praised the man who was, “The guardian of his natural rights and the rule of his civil conduct.” Far be it for us as citizens to merely embrace such motto’s as a mere intellectual conclusion, “For good thoughts (though God accept them) yet, towards, men, are little better than good dreams, except they be put in act.” wrote Francis Bacon.

Dear Premier Wall,

My name is Josiah C.M. Audette, I am a relatively new resident of the community of Regina Rosemont, and furthermore a proud fifth generation Canadian. Generation after generation, for over 120 years, my family has prospered in this fair province. My great, great grandfather started his life in Canada as a diamond driller for the Canadian Pacific Railway. Piercing holes into solid rock for the powder and nitro-glycerine, he helped clear the way for our nation’s “Iron link”, as Sir John McDonald referred to it, from our eastern provinces and onward through Crowsnest Pass itself. Upon completion of the railway, he married a beautiful Métis lady and homesteaded in Saskatchewan where my family has lived and prospered ever since. My great grandfather continued the family farm and nearly gave his life in the World Wars for his nation. I have the privilege of bearing the names of these two patriarchs who pioneered and homesteaded the Audette family in this province, Moise & Charles. Naturally, one could fairly deduce from these accounts, and many more yet untold, that I come from a long and highly patriotic family to the country of Canada and the province of Saskatchewan. Through the gold-rush, the trans-Canada railway, the depression, the wars, and through modern times my family can truly say in one accord with our province, “From many peoples, strength.”

Indeed this matter of society being formed and made of “many peoples” both familiar and diverse has become an even more illustrious testimony of Saskatchewan in recent times. Especially when in contrast to a world in which such principles are not always upheld. Such of course has been the recent protest in Sochi during the Olympics. The issue of human rights, diversity, humanity, and equality has been upraised and approbated both here and abroad in protest to Russia’s government. Lord Blackstone acutely wrote, “The first and primary end of human laws is to maintain and regulate these absolute rights of individuals.” Consequently, as such an individual myself, who wouldn’t be here today but for the French & Metis people, I am indeed thankful for being a welcomed citizen of a nation which is so introductive to these same rights. While I too am a valiant affirmer of the rights of personal liberty and would resist any group or government which would state otherwise, I am also concerned about such a noble cause being expropriated by activist groups. Such, I fear, is the case with the Rainbow Flag which currently flies at the Saskatchewan Legislature.

A flag is by nature a public manifesto. The herald of its people. The emblem of society. When we admire the provincial flag which soars on our legislature we remember “From many peoples, strength” as its motto so declares. Thus it is as well, when those in Sochi see our nation’s flag born on the backs of our fine olympians, they may surely know that there lies the manifesto which, as our Charter states, “Guarantees the rights and freedoms of thought, belief, opinion, and expression.” There lies also the herald of freedom, peace, and prosperity, and there lies the emblem of “The True North strong and free.” These, our national and provincial flags, fly with all their majesty and meaning on our Saskatchewan Legislature for the honour and praise of its people. Similarly, any other flag raised on our government’s soil is to receive equal homage and approbation. Herein lies my grave concern for the current flying of an activist flag on the Saskatchewan Legislature grounds. While I as a Canadian citizen and Saskatchewan resident owe the fullest and deepest reverence for our nation’s flag, I owe no such esteem to an activists flag. When an activist raises their flag on the government’s domain they are subsequently doing it upon government jurisdiction. When an activist so raises their flag, they are in return requiring from us as citizens the same patriotic homage to them as to the Canadian flag which flies next to it. To any Saskatchewan resident this ought to be considered as an unpatriotic performance of arrogation because it is misguiding and minimizing. Misguiding firstly of the sacrosanctity due to the provincial and national flags, and minimizing to the issue of human rights in the second place by isolating it to one particular activist group of the many who are fighting for the same higher cause of individual rights. In light of the discrimination are witnessing in Russia I would proffer that we should rather fly our flags at half mast, or make some other provincial demonstration of our sorrow and sympathy for those who’s rights are mistreated. Not in captious disrespect to the Rainbow Flag do I sincerely request it be removed from the Legislature grounds, but as a matter of principle honour to our Nation’s flag and to our Province’s flag do I request its removal. These are the true and only united representatives of the Saskatchewan people, not the flag of some particular activist group. Ours is the only true representative to the world, from the hearts and homes of the many diverse and unique peoples of Saskatchewan, that “From many peoples, strength.”

Yours sincerely,

Josiah Charles Moise Audette