When Callum McDonald was young, unlike most children his age, he was obsessed with flags.
Having drawn for most of his young life, alongside his friends and sister, the Oak Bay youth used his artistic abilities to draw coats of arms (a heraldic design on a shield, surcoat or tabard representing the individual/country) for civilizations he would make up on his own.
As he got older, McDonald began studying other cultures and his fascination grew.
“(Flags) really define the country, city, political group, ethnic group, religious minority, empire that it represents. Just a piece of canvas, which otherwise would be no more spectacular than a pillowcase, becomes something which, if gotten wrong, there’s outcry,” said the now 18-year-old, adding there are many laws around flags in the U.S.
“They’re very hallowed and revered items only because they reflect culture and they reflect the situation in that country.”
After watching a TEDX talk in 2015, which outlined flag design, flag competition and why flags are important for cities, McDonald questioned why Victoria doesn’t have an official flag.
Now, McDonald, who is also a member of the City of Victoria’s youth council, has started a group called A Flag for Victoria to create one for the city.
As part of the campaign, the group is looking to create open discussions about the possibility of an open, crowd-sourced flag competition, which would potentially involve online submissions by individuals and organizations that follow the North American Vexillological Association’s (an organization for flag design) design rules.
Submissions would also have to contain one element of design from the Victoria coat of arms, created in 1962.
Currently, the municipality of Victoria has a flag with its corporate logo, but McDonald hopes to bring forward a flag to represent Victoria’s diverse culture.
“It’s a good way to ferment culture. Victoria has a very unique West Coast culture here, different from the Mainland. I think having a flag goes along with the tight community we have in Victoria,” he said.
Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps agreed the city needs a flag and is excited about what the group will bring forward.
“I think it’s awesome that an 18-year-old cares passionately enough about his city to organize this conversation,” she said. “It’s the best we can hope for in terms of youth engagement and youth vision for what the city can be.”
The group hosts a forum on flag design on Saturday, Sept. 17 to create awareness of the benefits of flag design and the direction of a future flag competition.
For more information about the campaign visit aflagforvictoria.weebly.com.