Michel Dupuis, co-creator of Franco-Ontarian flag dies

The co-creator of the Franco-Ontarian flag has died at age 62.
One of the co-creators of the Franco-Ontarian flag has died. (Erik White/CBC)

The co-creator of the Franco-Ontarian flag has died at age 62.

Michel Dupuis will be remembered as the student who raised the first green and white trillium flower flag in front of a hopeful crowd at the University of Sudbury back on Sept. 25, 1975.

The moment is immortalized in a photo that most French-speaking Ontarians know well.

He was just 19 years old at the time.

Dupuis passed away this past Thursday afternoon, some 42 years after that iconic moment.

He originally conceptualized the flag along with one of his university professors, Gaétan Gervais.

'Cultural awakening'

In a 2015 interview with Radio-Canada on the eve of the 40th anniversary of the first flag-raising, Dupuis explained why he felt it was important for Franco-Ontarians to have their own banner to flock to.

Michel Dupuis, the co-creator of the Franco-Ontarian flag, died Thursday. (Radio-Canada)

"Just as Quebec lived a cultural revolution in the 1960s, French-Ontario was going through its own awakening in the '70s, with the emergence of writing collectives, songwriters and Franco-Ontarian theatre. The flag was simply an extension of that cultural awakening," stated Dupuis.

He also explained why he believes the flag caught on and continues to be a lasting symbol for French-speaking Canadians outside Quebec more than 40 years later.

Franco-Ontarian Day

"It was created by two individuals. It wasn't the idea of a government or a francophone association. If it continues to live on today, it's because the Franco-Ontarian community wanted it and decided to adopt it," he said.

A school built in 2016 in Manotick, near Ottawa, bears Dupuis' name.

The flag was officially recognized by the province in the Franco-Ontarian Emblem Act of 2001.

Since 2010, Sept. 25 has officially been recognized by the Government of Ontario as Franco-Ontarian Day.

With files from Radio-Canada