On December 11, Canada observes the Statute of Westminster Anniversary, which marks the day when the self-governing Dominions of the British Empire, including Canada, became substantially sovereign nations in their own right.
John Cabot, an Italian navigator and explorer, was the first European to step foot in what is now Canada. His landing site, which took place on June 24, 1497, has been debated as to its specific position, but according to official history, he landed near Cape Bonavista in Newfoundland.
It is regarded by many Canadians as the start of the modern Commonwealth and the day when Canada gained its voice. This occasion is remembered each year on December 11th across Canada as part of the Anniversary of the Statute of Westminster celebration.
On this day, the Canadian flag is flown alongside the Royal Union flag, giving Canadians a chance to feel proud of their role in both their nation and the wider world.
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History Of Anniversary Of The Statute Of Westminster
Prior to 1931, the British government wielded a significant amount of sway over the laws that were enacted by the Commonwealth Dominions (Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, the Irish Free State, and Newfoundland).
After the end of the First World War, things started to change; after the sacrifices made by Canada and other Dominions on the battlefield stirred feelings of nationhood and ambitions for complete autonomy, things started to change.
In the early 1920s, Canada made its first steps toward establishing its autonomy in international affairs. The Prime Minister of Canada at the time, William Lyon Mackenzie King, refused to provide assistance to British occupation forces in Turkey in 1922 without first obtaining the consent of his Parliament.
Later on, in 1923, Canada signed a deal with the United States regarding fisheries without first obtaining approval from Britain. In 1926, Canada established an embassy in Washington, District of Columbia, and Vincent Massey was appointed as the country’s first minister to serve in that capacity.
As a result, he was the very first diplomatic ambassador to ever be dispatched to a capital city outside of Canada. The Imperial Conference that took place in 1926 was the first step toward increased formalisation. It provided the Balfour Report from earlier that year with a strong foundation on a legal level.
The report had stated that the United Kingdom and all of its dominions were constitutionally “equal in status.” The 1929 Conference on the Operation of Dominion Legislation was where the process of modernizing the complicated legal framework of the Commonwealth continued.
The need for the dominions to have greater autonomy over their legislation was reaffirmed during the Imperial Conference in 1930. The British Parliament voted to approve the Statute of Westminster on December 11th, 1931. This event took place. The Dominions formally requested this, and it was carried out after receiving their approval.
This act confirmed the Dominions’ status as independently legislating jurisdictions. Even though it was given the right to self-government in 1867, Canada did not have complete legal autonomy until the Statute was passed on December 11, 1931. Prior to that date, it only had the right to self-government.
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What Do People Do On This Day?
There is not much of a difference between regular days and the Anniversary of the Statute of Westminster in terms of public life in Canada. In honour of the occasion, both the Canadian flag and the Royal Union flag will be flown side by side.
The decision to use the Royal Union flag as a representation of Canada’s devotion to the British crown and its participation in the Commonwealth of Nations was adopted by the Canadian parliament in 1964.
On certain days, such as the Anniversary of the Statute of Westminster, Commonwealth Day, and Victoria Day, Canada displays the Royal Union Jack alongside the Canadian flag. This shows that Canada and the United Kingdom maintain a strong relationship.
Of course, the Canadian flag will always take priority over the Union Jack. This will never change. Due to this reason, there are always two flag poles in use. On the day that commemorates the anniversary of the signing of the Statute of Westminster in Canada, the flags are flown from sunrise till sunset.
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