Kitchener-Waterloo

Wilfrid Laurier flags diversity with Hall of Nations in Brantford

Wilfrid Laurier University has hung 50 flags at its Brantford campus to celebrate diversity and to mark the opening of its Hall of Nations on Wednesday.

50 flags represent the countries and aboriginal communities of the students on campus

Laurier's Hall of Nations at the school's Brantford Campus features more than 50 flags, one for each country and aboriginal community represented at the school. (Wilfrid Laurier University)

Wilfrid Laurier University will hang 50 flags at its Brantford campus Wednesday to celebrate diversity and to mark the opening of its Hall of Nations.

The flags, representing the countries and nations that students identify with, will be hung in the Davis Fuels Walkway.

I think it brings such an important message to the community that this is who is represented on our campus.- Adam Lawrence

The idea for the flags came during a visit to another school in the United States, according to Adam Lawrence, dean of students.

"We had walked into this huge room and it was just breathtaking," he said. "They had all these flags around this room representing the country of origin of their student body."

The idea stuck with Lawrence and he brought it back to Canada, originally introducing it at Laurier's Waterloo campus, where the idea took off among several student focus groups.

The idea then made its way to Laurier's Brantford campus, where domestic and international students also showed interest.

"[They] were so passionate about it and it was really something students wanted to see on the campus," he said. "I think it brings such an important message to the community that this is who is represented on our campus."

Getting the flags

Lawrence said the university was able to get a list of origin countries in November, when the final number of enrolled students came in.

The university also wanted to represent the different First Nations in flags, so it collaborated with the Aboriginal office to make sure it had correct representation for students who identified as First Nation, Inuit or Metis.

It was initially suggested that the flags would change every year to represent the country of origin of the current student body; however, the student population didn't think this would be necessary.

"We have had a lot of conversation with students who are somewhat sad when they graduate their flag will leave," Lawrence said. "Maybe once a flag is up, it should always stay up."

He said organizers are also considering including flags of origin for faculty and staff in the future.

With files from the CBC's Jackie Sharkey