Canadian symbols at citizenship ceremonies

The display of Canadian symbols at citizenship ceremonies represents honour and pride, as well as a sense of celebration for being a Canadian citizen. The guidelines for the display of flags, emblems and portraits apply to all ceremonies.

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Flags

  • Canadian flag

    The Canadian flag must be displayed on the stage area at all citizenship ceremonies, and the condition of the flag must be as good as new. Most of the time, the flag is displayed vertically, on a flagpole (2 to 2.5 m high), behind the citizenship judge or volunteer presiding official and on the left of the stage area (as seen by the audience). However, there is flexibility on the location of the flag on the stage (left, centre or right). Site setup may dictate a better position for the flag.

    Remember: The Canadian flag must be in a place of honour.

    If the Canadian flag is displayed vertically on a flagpole, it must be positioned so that the point of the maple leaf is to the right and the stem of the maple leaf to the left, as seen by the audience (see picture below).

    A Canadian flag displayed vertically on a flagpole and positioned so that the point of the maple leaf is to the right and the stem of the maple leaf to the left.

    The Canadian flag can also be hung horizontally or vertically, flat against a surface. Refer to the "Rules for flying the National Flag of Canada: Displaying the Flag".

    Local citizenship offices are to purchase flags (and flag accessories) at their local flag shop.

  • Provincial, territorial and municipal flags

    The flags of provinces and territories, and municipalities may be displayed along with the Canadian flag at enhanced citizenship ceremonies.

    Common displays of flags at citizenship ceremonies

    • All provinces and territories with the Canadian flag (preferred display)

      The Canadian flag can be flown with all provincial and territorial flags. For proper flag positioning, refer to the “With flags of the Canadian provinces and territories” section of the “Position of honour of the National Flag of Canada” page.

    • Three-flag configuration

      If there is a desire to display the Canadian flag, a provincial or territorial flag and a municipal flag, refer to the “Sharing the same base – three flags” section of the “Rules for flying the National Flag of Canada” page.

  • Governor General's flag

    If the Governor General is a special guest at a citizenship ceremony or presiding over the citizenship ceremony, the Governor General’s flag has precedence over all other flags in Canada and is placed appropriately. Citizenship staff will be given instructions from the Governor General’s office about when and how to fly the flag.

  • Lieutenant-governor’s flag

    If a lieutenant-governor is a special guest at a citizenship ceremony or presiding over the citizenship ceremony within the province of their jurisdiction, the lieutenant-governor’s flag has precedence over all other flags within their jurisdiction and the flag is placed accordingly. Citizenship staff will be given instructions from the office of the lieutenant-governor about when and how to fly the flag.

    The flags of the Governor General and lieutenant-governor are placed to identify their presence in the building where the citizenship ceremony is taking place. The flags are personal flags and cannot be purchased.

Emblems and symbols

Canada and the provinces and territories have their own symbols and emblems. (animals, flora, etc.) that may be displayed at a citizenship ceremony if the ceremony room already includes them or can accommodate them. This also applies to the Coat of Arms of Canada and provincial coats of arms.

Emblems and symbols can be displayed on the staging platform behind the citizenship judge or volunteer presiding official.

Order of displaying Canadian symbols

Generally, flags, emblems and symbols are displayed in a set order at citizenship ceremonies. The order is set by the province’s or territory’s date of entry in Confederation, with provinces preceding territories.

If there is no room on the stage area for provincial and territorial flags or emblems, these can be displayed elsewhere in the room. They should be displayed in the same order as they would be on the stage, with the Canadian symbol on the left and provincial and territorial symbols on the right, as seen by the audience.

The order for displaying Canadian symbols, from left to right (as seen by the audience) is the following:

  1. Canada: July 1, 1867
  2. Ontario: July 1, 1867
  3. Quebec: July 1, 1867
  4. Nova Scotia: July 1, 1867
  5. New Brunswick: July 1, 1867
  6. Manitoba: July 15, 1870
  7. British Columbia: July 20, 1871
  8. Prince Edward Island: July 1, 1873
  9. Saskatchewan: September 1, 1905
  10. Alberta: September 1, 1905
  11. Newfoundland and Labrador: March 31, 1949
  12. Northwest Territories: July 15, 1870
  13. Yukon Territory: June 13, 1898
  14. Nunavut: April 1, 1999

Portraits

Generally, the portrait of the Queen should be displayed in the centre of the stage as if Her Majesty is overseeing the ceremony. However, it can also be displayed to the left of the stage with the flag and podium. There is flexibility on the location of the portrait depending on site setup.

A portrait of the current Governor General can also be displayed along with the portrait of the Queen. Both portraits should be the same size (preferably 8” x 10”). When both portraits are displayed, the Queen’s portrait is displayed at the left and the Governor General’s portrait to the right, as seen by the audience. The portraits should be beside each other, not one above the other or one at the far left and another at the far right of the stage area.

How can I obtain a portrait?

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

A framed copy of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, in both official languages, may also be displayed.

National anthem: "O Canada"

New citizens, the platform party and guests are expected to sing "O Canada" and are encouraged, if they choose, to sing it in English or French, or bilingually. The ceremony program will contain a bilingual version, but candidates and guests can sing either.

Citizenship staff should play the bilingual version of the anthem during citizenship ceremonies and invite new citizens to sing the bilingual version of the anthem.

It is acceptable to have a soloist or singers (such as a choir) to lead the singing.

How can I obtain recordings and transcripts of “O Canada”?

The bilingual national anthem card (PDF, 1.25MB) is included in the ceremony program folders and distributed to all new Canadians at citizenship ceremonies. A bookmark version of the card, with the English and French versions of the anthem, is also available for family and guests.

Royal anthem of Canada: “God Save the Queen”

The royal anthem of Canada, “God Save the Queen”, can be played or sung on any occasion when Canadians wish to honour the Sovereign.

It is recommended that citizenship staff

  • play the anthem at the start of the ceremony once the presiding official, clerk or platform party are in place at the front of the ceremony (it should be noted that the national anthem (“O Canada”) should be played at the end as usual);
  • tell the audience that the anthem will be played in one language but that they can sing it in the language of their choice;
  • do not use the anthem as a processional piece of music that accompanies a formal procession of people entering the room;
  • change the speaking points for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) or clerk of the ceremony at the beginning of the ceremony to say that the royal anthem is being played (e.g., once the platform party is in place on stage, the RCMP or clerk of the ceremony says, “This citizenship ceremony is now in session. Please remain standing for Canada’s royal anthem. It will be sung in [Insert 'English' or 'French'], but feel free to sing it in the language of your choice.”);
  • (optional) distribute the royal anthem leaflets (with lyrics in English and French) to candidates and guests (leaflets can be included in the ceremony kits for candidates or handed out separately).
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