On August 23, 1876, Treaty No. 6 was signed between the Plains, Wood Cree, Nakota, Saulteaux and Dene people and the Crown, and adhesion to Treaty No. 6 was signed by Chiefs at a site in what is now known as Edmonton, on August 21, 1877.
According to the document, Treaty No. 6 will endure “as long as the sun shines, as long as the grass grows, and as long as the river flows.”
Incorporated as a town in 1892, and then as a city in 1904, Edmonton became the capital of Alberta when the province was formed a year later. Edmonton’s coat of arms was adopted in 1949, and the current city flag was approved by council in 1966.
On August 19, 2016, the Edmontonian Flag was presented as a ceremonial Treaty 6 Recognition Day gift to Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson by Confederacy of Treaty Six First Nations Grand Chief Randy Ermineskin, as a symbol of reconciliation and their commitment to collaboration, respectful dialogue and exploring shared opportunities. Designed by Edmonton artist Ryan McCourt, the Edmontonian Flag is intended to tangibly symbolize a new dawn in Nation-to-Nation relationship building.
Mayor Iveson has made the commendable suggestion of officially adopting the Grand Chief’s ceremonial gift as Edmonton’s new city flag.
Global News: City of Edmonton Mulls Changes to Municipal Flag
Edmonton Journal: Should Edmonton’s City Flag Be Replaced?
CTV News: Mayor Draws Attention To City Flag
City Flag Design
Five Principles of Good Flag Design
- Keep it simple: Edmonton’s current flag is WAY too complicated! This new design simplifies the imagery from the current flag, so that even a child can draw it accurately from memory;
- Use meaningful symbolism: The current flag features fictional characters among an excess of uninspired symbolism! This new design makes specifically relevant and reverent reference to the evocative words of Treaty No. 6;
- Use only a few colours: The current flag has WAY too many colours! This new design reduces the number of colours to Edmonton’s five official city colours;
- Don’t use lettering, seals, or coat-of-arms: The current flag fails this criteria resoundingly. The new design omits the inapt lettering and inappropriate coat-of-arms;
- Be distinctive and/or related: The current flag is, to put it bluntly, nothing more than the city coat-of-arms slapped unceremoniously onto a striped bedsheet. This new design borrows from our official municipal and provincial imagery and traditional symbolism to create a unique new flag perfect for our beloved ‘Purple City’!
Inspired by Edmonton’s reputation as a Festival City, as a Gateway to the North, and as the City of Champions, the design combines the hills of Alberta’s coat of arms with the sun and river symbols and colours from Edmonton’s coat of arms, to make a new flag for Edmonton that can stand as a proud civic symbol “as long as the sun shines, grass grows, and rivers flow.”
Purple represents courage and authority, creativity and freedom.
Gold represents prosperity and enlightenment, energy and industry.
Blue represents stability and loyalty, strength and integrity.
Green represents nature and freshness, growth and progress.
White represents peace and openness, safety and the snows of winter.
The Sun Shines
At the summer solstice, Edmonton receives seventeen hours and three minutes of daylight, with an hour and forty-six minutes of ‘civil twilight’. On average Edmonton receives 2,299 hours of bright sunshine per year and is one of Canada’s sunniest cities. That’s why there is a sun on our city Crest, and on this flag design, too. A rising sun is a symbol of new beginnings and bright futures. As with the city Crest, this rising sun has seven rays, which may be seen to correspond to Edmonton’s seven geographic sectors – a mature area sector, which includes neighbourhoods that were essentially built out prior to 1970, and six surrounding suburban sectors.
The sun symbol can also represent the shine of gold over in ‘them thar’ hills’, in a reference to Edmonton’s historic status as ‘Gateway to the North’, or the symbol can be seen as a ‘shining city on a hill‘ in reference to Edmonton’s significance as a centre of educational and political leadership. Or, it can abstractly represent the sights and sounds of a raucous festival happening in one of our parks, or literally as a jester’s cap, in reference to our famous Fringe and our ‘Festival City’. Or, the sun can represent, together with the river, the proverbial gold medal and blue ribbon of excellence that symbolizes our ‘City of Champions.’ Or, you can imagine it as a marigold, Edmonton’s official flower, whose many varieties symbolize and celebrate diversity in Edmonton’s population.
The Grass Grows
Aboriginal inhabitants settled in the area that is now Edmonton around 3,000 BC and perhaps as early as 12,000 BC, when an ice-free corridor opened as the last glacial period ended, and timber, water, and wildlife became available in the region. The terrain in and around Edmonton is generally flat to gently rolling, with ravines and deep river valleys, such as the North Saskatchewan River valley. The green hills in this design are borrowed from the centre of Alberta’s coat of arms, as a symbolic reference to Edmonton’s central Albertan location and importance as the provincial capital. The colour green in general is symbolic of the importance of the natural environment and agriculture throughout Edmonton’s history.
The River Flows
In 1754, Anthony Henday, an explorer for the Hudson’s Bay Company, may have been the first European to enter the Edmonton area. His expeditions across the Canadian Prairies were mainly to seek contact with the aboriginal population for establishing the fur trade. By 1795, Fort Edmonton was established on the river’s north bank as a major trading post for the Hudson’s Bay Company. The river was a primary source of sustenance, protection, transportation, recreation, etc. in the past, and now. The blue river trimmed in white is taken directly from Edmonton’s Crest, and placed neatly between the green hills taken from Alberta’s crest. Seen all together, the flag presents an image of the four elements united in harmony: earth, water, fire, and air. The carefully considered layering of multiple meanings and symbols means the flag is inclusive of all of Edmonton’s diverse cultures and viewpoints.