“Standing together in support of each other.”
How the flag was created – by the artist, Curtis Wilson.
I created this design while sitting at my dinner table thinking about who I am and where I came from. I like to describe myself as coming from the four corners of the Kwakwaka’wakw territory. My paternal grandparents come from Axwamees (Wakeman Sound), and We Wai Kai (Cape Mudge); my maternal grandparents come from Ba’as (Blunden Harbour), and Wei Wai Kum (Campbell River).
I have a proud heritage in Canada, to reflect on, which includes among other things: my Great-Great Grandfather, Chief Billy Assu, received Medals of Honour from King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II and one of my great Uncles, Donald Assu, and Aunt (Priscilla Henderson) received the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medals in 2013. Chief Billy Assu and his family and fellow Chiefs adopted a National flag in 1956 that contained as its symbol, a maple leaf. My Grandfather James Wilson received medals for his volunteer military service in the European Theater during the Second World War, where many of the non-native soldiers fighting beside him questioned how he could fight for a country that didn’t even recognize him as a person. He replied that he was fighting for his Country. My father James Wilson Jr served our people administratively and politically for his whole life to better the world for his children and grandchildren.
The achievements, character, and work ethic of my family have enabled me to provide my creative thoughts and art to make the world a safer and better environment for my descendants and society as a whole. I strive to help us think of inclusiveness in Canada instead of exclusiveness or as the title suggests: “Standing together in support of each other.”
Throughout my life, I have come to learn all the different relationships, interactions, hardships and struggles that First Nations people have faced in this country. This history goes back to time immemorial there have been a lot of negative impacts on both sides. I am a person that always tries to see the glass half full and even with all of the difficult situations we have faced, I still love the country I live in and am proud to call myself a Canadian…and First Nations Canadian. I wanted to create a design that represents both my cultural heritage and the country I live in.
The symbolism of the flag
The two designs on the red side bands are K’utala-Salmon. Salmon seemed the perfect way to convey the importance of family, friendships, and strength in numbers.
There are as many types of people living here in Canada as there are types of salmon. I would like see us coming together in the future, not only my First Nations people, but all of Canada.
Salmon are known for dependability and renewal. Kwakwaka’wakw people think of them as a provider and a symbol of fertility and good health. The salmon is the source of life for our people and we depend upon the salmon as our main food source in the past, present, and hopefully the future.
The design within the maple leaf is a head of a killer whale in the shape of an oval. The killer whale head is surrounded by some traditional use designs called split “U” shapes.
Royalties from the flag go back to Curtis’s family.