New symbols on the way
There's still time to submit flag, coat of arms

Glen Korstrom
Northern News Services

NNSL (July 26/99) - Time is running out for anyone with an idea for the design of a new NWT coat of arms and flag.

The emergence of Nunavut has meant some current symbols are no longer relevant to the new NWT, so the Western Identity Committee has a contest for people to design a new coat of arms and flag.

"It doesn't make sense to have things in your coat of arms that don't exist in your territory," said contest organizer Lynda Comerford about the two gold narwhals guarding a compass rose symbolic of the magnetic North Pole.

Committee member and MLA Seamus Henry agrees.

"The magnetic North Pole is in Nunavut, as are the Narwhals, so it was decided we should have something more relevant to the people of the NWT," Henry said.

Though many components of the shield in the middle of the coat of arms and in the middle of the flag may still be relevant, the search for new symbols is "wide open."

As such, there is a contest with people having until July 30 to get their entries in.

About 150 entries have been received so far from all ages and from all across the new territory. Both Comerford and Henry beam about their quality.

Determining the process for selecting the new symbols will fall to a smaller committee struck from the current Western Identity Committee made up of several MLAs.

Inside a brochure that was distributed to band councils, municipalities and door-to-door for everyone in the NWT, there is a sheet of possible items to be included in the coat of arms and flag.

Caribou, black bears and muskrats are only a few of the choices available under the animal category.

Once these forms are tallied, the committee will have a better sense of what animals might be wanted to act as what are called supporters, the part of the coat of arms that flank the shield.

The form also provides people a way to have their say on the elements without drawing an entry.

"Hopefully, we'll find something unique to make the NWT stand out," Henry said.

"This is a unique opportunity because it's not too often that territories change their flag."

Henry said he believes the intent is to have all new symbols in place by the first sitting of the next legislative assembly.

"It hasn't been decided by the committee yet when the flag and the coat of arms will be unveiled. It has been determined that the new mace will be kept secret until the first sitting of the new legislative assembly (after an election)," Henry said.