Approved by: Chief Corporate Services Officer
Category: General Administration
Approval date: June 22, 2006
Effective date: June 22, 2006
Revision approved by: Executive Committee
Revision date: December 3, 2014
Revision approved by: City Clerk
Revision date: October 9, 2017
Revision approved by: City Clerk
Revision date: January 21, 2020 (housekeeping revisions)
These procedures apply to City Hall and its municipal sites and support the City of Ottawa's Office of Protocol and Intergovernmental Affairs Policy.
The purpose of this protocol is to ensure that flags at City of Ottawa sites are flown and displayed properly and that the procedure followed ensures the dignity and respect for who the flags are flown.
The City of Ottawa will fly flags on its premises on a permanent basis and on a temporary basis to mark special occasions. Flag-raising ceremonies enhance public awareness of activities such as national days, multicultural events, and fundraising drives. They encourage support from members of the public, and benefit and enrich the community. A flag raising is the ceremonial raising of either a flag or pennant that can occur with or without an accompanying ceremony.
The City will fly its flags at half-mast in the event of a death or to commemorate a solemn occasion. The act of half-masting is a strong visual statement that speaks to the sense of loss that is shared by all citizens. The flags are lowered at the direction of the Mayor.
The flying of flags at Ottawa City Hall falls into two categories: flags that are flown permanently and flags that are flown temporarily on special occasions.
Flags flown permanently at Ottawa City Hall:
National Flag of Canada
Province of Ontario Flag
City of Ottawa Flag
Algonquin Anishinabeg Nation Tribal Council Flag
Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation Flag
Promotional banners of any kind are prohibited from being attached to, or flown from, the City of Ottawa’s external flagpoles.
Flags will be raised:
- in recognition of the ethnic diversity of the population of the City of Ottawa and of its unique role as the nation’s capital, the City of Ottawa will fly the flag of any nation on its national day with whom Canada has diplomatic relations. All Embassies have been invited to provide the City’s Office of Protocol and Intergovernmental Affairs with their national flag to be flown outside City Hall on their respective national day. Where these flags have been provided, they will be flown from sunrise to sunset in accordance with the attached list of national days provided by Global Affairs Canada (Appendix A). Where two or more countries share the same national day, the flags will be flown in alphabetical order;
- as a gesture of respect and friendship, on the advice of the Chief of Protocol and at the direction of the Mayor, the City of Ottawa will fly the appropriate flag on the occasion of a visiting dignitary; the flag will be flown for the duration of the visit to Ottawa City Hall;
- for groups and organizations whose mandates, programs or activities:
- are directly related to the City of Ottawa by way of a relevant funding or partnership agreement; or
- correspond with relevant days of awareness, celebration, importance, commemoration or promotion, as recognized by the Ontario Provincial Government and/or the Canadian Federal Government, or a Ministry or Department thereof.
Groups or organizations requesting a flag raising:
- are required to submit their request to the Office of Protocol and Intergovernmental Affairs on their group’s / organization’s official letterhead at least four weeks prior to the date of the requested flag raising;
- must provide the Office of Protocol and Intergovernmental Affairs with the appropriate flag; such flags can be flown annually; however, a new request must be submitted by the requestor each year;
- must provide the Office of Protocol and Intergovernmental Affairs with a flag created specifically to represent their event; a national flag will not be flown to represent an event.
The City will not fly the flag of a group or organization whose undertakings or philosophy are contrary to City of Ottawa policies or by-laws, espouse hatred, violence, or racism, or are politically or religiously motivated or represent other individual conviction.
Half-masting of flags
The half-masting of flags is an act of honour expressing a collective sense of sorrow shared by all citizens. It is in this context that the City of Ottawa has developed the following guidelines that will determine the half-masting protocol and procedures to be adopted and implemented in a consistent and appropriate manner.
The City of Ottawa will fly its flags at half-mast in the event of a death or to commemorate a solemn occasion. Flags will not be flown at half-mast for individual City of Ottawa employees, unless the employee dies in the line of duty or by reason of the position he or she occupies within the City of Ottawa.
The flags will be lowered in accordance with this protocol, or in circumstances not identified herein, at the direction of the Mayor. In the event that the Mayor is not available to consider the half-masting of flags for circumstances not identified herein, the City Clerk will have the delegated authority to decide on the half-masting of flags.
In accordance with this protocol, or in circumstances not identified herein, in consultation with the Mayor and/or the City Clerk, the Chief of Protocol will provide the appropriate instruction to lower the flags.
The position of the flag when flying at half-mast will depend on its size, the length of the mast and its location; but as a general rule, the centre of the flag should be exactly halfway down the mast.
On the occasions requiring that flags be flown at half-mast, all flags in a group or those that are together shall be flown at half-mast. In the case where a foreign national flag or a flag of a charitable or non-profit organization is being flown, the appropriate Embassy and organization will be contacted by the Office of Protocol and Intergovernmental Affairs to inform them of the half-masting. Should they wish to have their respective flag also flown at half-mast, we will do so; otherwise, their flag will be removed.
To commemorate the following occasions, flags will be flown at half-mast on an annual basis from sunrise until sunset at all City of Ottawa buildings that have flag poles:
Dates flags flown at half-mast
||National Day of Mourning for Persons Killed or Injured in the Workplace (Workers' Mourning Day)
|Second Sunday in September
||Firefighters' National Memorial Day
|Last Sunday in September
||National Police and Peace Officers' Memorial Day
||National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women
(*) As the nation's capital, the City has incorporated in its flag protocol, some of the guidelines adopted by the Government of Canada when half-masting the Canadian flag.
Flags will be flown at half-mast at all City of Ottawa sites upon notification of death until sunset the day of the funeral or memorial service:
- The Sovereign (*)
- Sovereign's Family (*)
- Current and former Governors General of Canada (*)
- Current and former Prime Ministers of Canada (*)
- Current Lieutenant Governor of Ontario (*)
- Current Premier of Ontario
- Current Mayor
- Current Members of City Council
- An employee of the City of the Ottawa who dies in the line of duty or by reason of the position he or she occupies within the City of Ottawa
Flags will be flown at half-mast at City Hall or the appropriate Client Service Centre from sunrise until sunset the day of the funeral or memorial service:
- Mayors of former municipalities, including the former City of Ottawa
- Members of Council of former municipalities, including the former City of Ottawa
Flags will be flown at half-mast at City Hall from sunrise until sunset the day of the funeral or memorial service:
- Current local Members of Parliament
- Current local Members of Provincial Parliament
Should the requirement for the half-masting of flags occur on a weekend or on a statutory holiday, the flags at City Hall will be immediately lowered. The flags at all other affected sites will be lowered on the first subsequent business day.
The Chief of Protocol will send a notice to all relevant authorities instructing them to half-mast the flags. The notice will stipulate the reasons, geographical extent and duration of the half-masting. Flags at any and all sites do not have approval to lower their flags until such notice is received from the Chief of Protocol.
Position of flags
In compliance with flag protocol, an observer facing the display would find these flags positioned in the following manner beginning at the extreme left. (For additional information regarding the positioning of flags, please refer to Appendix B.)
Facing the display, an observer would find these flags positioned in the following manner beginning at the extreme left. (For additional information regarding the positioning of flags, please refer to Appendix B.)
Disposal of flags
When a flag becomes worn, noticeably faded or otherwise unfit for service, it must be disposed of in a dignified manner.
Technical description of the flags flown permanently at City Hall
National Flag of Canada
The official ceremony inaugurating the new Canadian Flag was held on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on February 15, 1965. The national flag of Canada is a red flag of the proportions two by length and one by width containing in its center a white square of the width of the flag, with a single red maple leaf centered therein. The colours red and white are Canada's official colours and with the maple leaf, are the symbolic elements found in the Canadian flag.
Province of Ontario Flag
The Province of Ontario flag is red and of the proportions two by length and one by width with the Union Jack occupying the upper quarter next to the staff and with the shield of the armorial bearings of the Province of Ontario centered in the half farthest from the staff. The flag was first raised in a ceremony in front of the Legislative Assembly building on May 21, 1965, the day it was proclaimed into force.
City of Ottawa Flag
The City of Ottawa flag was designed to reflect the landscape of the new City with a green and blue backdrop representing the importance of the city's green spaces and waterways. The stylized 'O' logo is in the center of the flag and represents the vibrancy and forward movement of the new City.
The new City of Ottawa flag was developed following extensive public consultation that emphasized Ottawa's quality of life, environment, economy and status as the nation's capital. The flag was adopted by the Ottawa Transition Board on October 23, 2000.
The emblem of the Ontario French-speaking community consists of two vertical bands of different colours. The first band is mid-green and has a white lily in the middle of the band. The second band is white and has a mid-green trillium in the middle of the band. On the emblem, green represents summer and white represents winter. Together the two colours represent the diversity of Ontario’s climate. The lily evokes the French-speaking community worldwide, whereas the trillium is the floral emblem of Ontario. The City of Ottawa flies the Franco-Ontarian flag to honour its original creation more than a quarter of a century ago; to acknowledge it as an important symbol for the French-speaking community in Ottawa; and to commemorate its formal recognition in 2001 by the Province of Ontario.
Algonquin Anishinabeg Nation Tribal Council
In the foreground of the logo, the people stand upon a mound of earth with a ceremonial drum. The man stands with his son and the woman stands with her daughter. This represents the duties of the father and mother in passing on each other’s responsibilities to the future generation to understanding their role in life. It is to maintain a walk of balance for human existence in the spirit of creation. The people stand together upon the mound of earth to signify the relation we hold as a people in our bond of unity to one another, and to the land, because we are part in the origin of the earth’s creation. The ceremonial drum represents a source of reliance connecting the people to the spirit in understanding the direction to harmonizing respect in the circle of life. The wilderness and all contained within represents our survival and the need to maintain its preservation. In the background, the sun represents the order of natural law recognizing the existence of one sole and absolute creator. From spiritual desires to physical needs, the rays of the sun represent the will of the creator in favouring the wants of the people. The eagle is a representation of the gifts or blessings given by the creator. The eagle feather symbolizes the physical sign or evidence of the gift.
In response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions' Call to Action, Ottawa City Council passed a motion on February 28, 2018 to have the flags of the Algonquin Anishinabe Nation Tribal Council and the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation raised permanently at Ottawa City Hall. On June 21st, 2018 a flag-raising Ceremony was held in recognition of National Indigenous Peoples Day; this marked the day that the Algonquin Anishinabeg Nation Tribal Council flag was permanently raised at Ottawa City Hall.
Algonquin of Pikwakanagan First Nation
The feather and tassel represent the culture. The circle represents the circle of life. The bear represents wisdom and strength, the bear clan, and the responsibility to protect community.
In response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions' Call to Action, Ottawa City Council passed a motion on February 28, 2018 to have the flags of the Algonquin Anishinabe Nation Tribal Council and the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation raised permanently at Ottawa City Hall. On June 21st, 2018 a flag-raising Ceremony was held in recognition of National Indigenous Peoples Day; this marked the day that the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation flag was permanently raised at Ottawa City Hall.
The application of this protocol will be monitored by the Chief of Protocol.
The list of appended National Days was obtained from Global Affairs Canada.
Legislative and Administrative Authorities
Half masting of flags
Half-masting of flags
Chief of Protocol
Office of Protocol and Intergovernmental Affairs
Office of the City Clerk
City of Ottawa
Appendix A: List of National Days as provided by Global Affairs Canada
Appendix B: Information on the positioning of flags