Chief Herald excited by NWT symbols work
Robert Watt praises Nunavut process

Arthur Milnes
Northern News Services

NNSL (Jan 25/99) - When you're talking to Robert Watt there is one thing you should know right off the bat -- it's herald, not Harold.

As the Chief Herald of Canada -- the person responsible for administering the Governor General's vice-regal heraldic responsibilities -- the creation of Nunavut and its symbols, such as a new flag and coat of arms, has kept him busy over the last couple of years.

"It's been a two-year plus project so far," Watt says from his office in Ottawa's august Rideau Hall -- the resident of the Governor General -- when asked about his work on Nunavut's symbols. "I've travelled to a number of communities in the NWT to meet leaders, elders and artists on this."

Watt has held the office -- which looks after the granting of coats of arms to Canadian institutions, corporations and individuals; the registration of arms, flags and badges and other items essential to Canada's national symbolic fabric -- since 1988. He is full of praise for Nunavut's actions in the symbols area.

"In the end, there is a really fascinating book on this particular project," he says. "The elders and leaders with whom I've been working made clear from the very outset that the public, both in Nunavut and across Canada, had an opportunity to be involved in the creation of the new symbols."

Queen Elizabeth II herself has already given final approval to Nunavut's flag and coat of arms designs. They'll be kept under wraps until April 1 when the new territory dawns.

Watt says his office was contacted earlier this month by the Special Committee on Western Identity, established by the assembly's Western Caucus, in order to begin the symbols' process for the new western territory.

On the light side the Chief Herald says most people are quite interested in his office and duties upon meeting him. Chuckling, he does, however, admit he's been sent letters addressed to him as the "Chief Harold of Canada."

Watt is reassuring. Apparently none of these letters have come from the NWT.