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Wrong flag colours fly in Yellowknife
Bungled banners come down at Diamond Plaza, Kentucky Fried Chicken

Kevin Allerston
Northern News Services
Published Monday, July 11, 2011

SOMBA K'E/YELLOWKNIFE - Prince William and his wife, Catherine Middleton, likely didn't notice but there was something a little odd about some of the NWT flags fluttering about Yellowknife until late last week. The colours were simply wrong.

NNSL photo/graphic

The correct NWT flag at the Ceremonial Circle behind city hall as seen on Thursday.

NNSL photo/graphic

The wrongly designed NWT flag flies above Diamond Plaza in downtown Yellowknife last Wednesday.

Flags flying over Diamond Plaza, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and in the Ed Jeske Arena at the Multiplex had the green - representing NWT forests and normally found on the left side of the coat of arms in the flag's centre - and the red - representing the tundra in autumn - reversed.

"It's hard to figure out how something like this can happen when these things are mass-produced," said Mayor Gord Van Tighem. "How do you get some one way and some another?"

He said the territorial banners came from House of Flags and Banners in Edmonton, the same company the city has always ordered its flags from.

The city sells the flags for $69.50 each, along with other souvenirs sold to promote the North. Van Tighem said the city is still trying to determine how many of the erroneous flags were ordered, how many were sold and where they went.

Even with the mistake, Van Tighem said the city is willing to continue working with the company in the future.

"If they straighten out their mistake, there's always a chance to give them a second chance," said Van Tighem.

Van Tighem said the flags, which measure 24 inches by 35 inches, will be sent back to be replaced.

A graphic designer with the House of Flags and Banners, who asked not to be named, said he isn't sure how the mix-up happened as the flags were ordered two years ago.

"That never usually happens, especially on provincial or territorial flags," said the man. "It's hard to say exactly what happened."

Yellowknife's Kentucky Fried Chicken bought its flag at city hall. Restaurant manager Sasha Jason said she hadn't noticed the error on the flag, which she purchased almost a year ago, until asked about it by News/North.

"I didn't notice, so that makes me feel kind of bad about it," she said. "But now that I know that it's wrong, it seems like something that should be done correctly or corrected once it's realized that it was wrong."

She said the flag was returned to city hall last week, but no reimbursement was sought. A correctly coloured flag - also purchased from the city - is now flying outside the restaurant, said Jason.

Former NWT commissioner Tony Whitford said he never noticed the mix-up either, but said he's not upset.

"Surely no one has gone and deliberately done something to the flag. It doesn't offend me because I'm sure it was accidental," said Whitford.

"If anybody is smart, they will run and get a hold of it and use it like if you find a misprint of a dollar bill - hold on to that and it could be worth something some day."

Arctic West Adjusters, the property manager for Diamond Plaza, declined to comment on the mix-up. Diamond Plaza houses offices for both the Canadian Forces and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. The erroneous flag was flying there Wednesday but by Thursday it was gone.

The origins of the territorial flag date back to 1957, when Ontario artist Alan Beddoe's design for the territorial coat of arms was approved by Queen Elizabeth II.

There is a lot of symbolism in the flag. The white at the top of the shield represents the polar ice pack and the wavy blue line symbolizes the Northwest Passage.

The diagonal line running through the middle portion of the shield represents the tree line, with the green representing the forests and yellow representing gold.

The red section represents the tundra, which turns red just before snowfall, while the Arctic fox represents the fur trade which brought many explorers and entrepreneurs to the North.

The coat of arms was incorporated into a flag in 1969, after Robert Bassant won a national competition to come up with a flag design for the NWT. The blue on the sides represents the territory's water while the white represents snow.

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