Anniversary of the Statute of Westminster

The Statute of Westminster, 1931: Giving Canada Its Own Voice

Building upon resolutions passed at the Imperial Conferences of 1926 and 1930, Canada and other dominions of the then British Empire sought to gain formal recognition of their autonomy from the United Kingdom. In the 50 years since Confederation and having attained a true sense of nationhood at the Battle of Vimy Ridge in 1917, Canada actively worked for such recognition of its autonomy to be expressed both at home and on the international stage. This was to find expression through the granting of legislative equal status for all the self-governing dominions. The Statute of Westminster, 1931 — an act of the British Parliament — affirmed Canadian autonomy and recognized the virtual independence of the dominions that, for all intents and purposes, had existed in principle since World War I and the Treaty of Versailles that followed. Beyond marking a truly significant milestone in our evolution as an independent nation, the Statute of Westminster, 1931 can be seen, in many ways, as the foundation or charter of the present-day Commonwealth.

The anniversary of the establishment of the Statute of Westminster is celebrated each year on December 11. The Royal Union Flag, commonly known as the "Union Jack," where physical arrangements allow, is flown along with the National Flag on federal buldings, airports, military bases and other federal buildings and establishments within Canada, from sunrise to sunset, to mark this day.

Physical arrangements means the existence of at least two flag poles; the Canadian flag always takes precedence and is never replaced by the Union Jack. Where only one pole exists, no special steps should be taken to erect an additional pole to fly the Union Jack for this special day.

O.D. Skelton observes a signing ceremony by Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King.

O.D. Skelton (standing right) observes a signing ceremony by
Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King.
Source: Walter J. Turnbull / Library and Archives Canada / PA-200350

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