Canadians scramble to display U.S. flags to express sympathy
By WALLACE IMMEN, The Globe and Mail
With reports from Dawn Walton in Calgary; and Jennifer Lewington in Toronto
Saturday, September 15, 2001
Red, white and blue were the colours of the day across Canada yesterday as Canadians expressed solidarity with their U.S. neighbours against the shared threat of terrorism.
Many people dug into drawers and closets for U.S. symbols and souvenirs of visits to New York to wear on a day of mourning observed on both sides of the border.
In Ottawa, the Stars and Stripes was prominently displayed among the throngs gathered for a memorial service.
In Calgary, U.S. flags and T-shirts emblazoned with slogans such as I Love New York were prominent in the crowds attending memorial events.
In Toronto, 200 people watching video coverage of the Ottawa service in the rotunda at Metro Hall in Toronto broke into loud applause when one of the speakers talked of the "extraordinary friendship" between Canada and the United States.
Natalie Misko, who works in Toronto for the Royal Bank, which also has offices in the United States, said she chose to wear a blouse with a U.S. flag pattern to show "we share their grief and mourning."
A poster of a U.S. flag and the slogan "God Bless America" that was included in The Toronto Sun newspaper yesterday quickly found its way into shop windows across the city.
The poster, with its prominent U.S. flag, was also taped onto the windows of several Toronto Police cars on patrol yesterday. It was a decision made by individual officers to express their concern for the situation south of the border, police spokesman Sergeant Jim Muscat said. "There is a movement to get some sort of joint campaign together with the other police services around Toronto," Sgt. Muscat said. He said there have been discussions about wearing black ribbons on uniforms.
People are scrambling to find U.S. flags to wave.
"They just want a flag. Any size, any quality. We're completely sold out," said Daphne Warner, of All-Nations Flag Co. Ltd. in Toronto.
"We have been getting over 100 calls an hour from dealers begging for more supplies," said Jane Cocking, marketing manager for Flags Unlimited, in Barrie, the largest producer of flags in Canada.
"On Thursday, we had an order from a U.S. wholesaler for two million flags," Ms. Cocking said. The company's retail store in Barrie has been packed with customers looking for the Stars and Stripes.
The company normally produces 5,000 U.S. flags a year but is now printing 500 an hour, 24 hours a day, Ms. Cocking said.
"Our bottleneck is they have to be stitched by hand. We are in desperate need of people who can work the evening and night shift," she said.
"If you know anyone who can operate a sewing machine, we can promise them at least a month's work."
With no flag available, Lynne Seawright drew one by hand on her T-shirt yesterday morning.
At BCE Place, where several hundred people observed a moment of silence, the Buffalo, N.Y., native, who has worked in Toronto for three years, said she was proud to see support from Canadians.
"I tried to give blood, but I couldn't because it was so crowded with Canadians who were donating," Ms. Seawright said.
Among the most prominent symbols seen on the street yesterday were crossed Canadian and U.S. flags with the slogan "strength in unity." The picture was on jackets being worn by members of the Amalgamated Transit Union, which held its international convention at the Sheraton Centre this week.
The meeting ended on Thursday but they are finding it difficult to travel back to the United States.
Joseph Welch, international vice-president of the union responsible for New York, recalled many meetings in former New York governor Mario Cuomo's city constituency office on the 50th floor of the World Trade Center, which was destroyed.
"You could look right out the window and see the Statue of Liberty," Mr. Welch said yesterday.
"Lady Liberty has got to be bawling her eyes out over what we've seen this week."