A Winnipeg councillor is seeking to stop one flag-raising event, and get city hall to reconsider the practice altogether.
Coun. Shawn Nason (Transcona) said a flag-raising planned for the Republic of Kosovo on Wednesday has sparked concerns from the city’s Serbian community.
A local Serbian reverend and Nason both say the event should be cancelled, due to tensions between the two regions. The complaint is based on war-time conflicts and the fact some countries don’t recognize Kosovo’s independence.
Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia in 2008.
Rev. Sinisa Milutinovic, of the St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Church, said he has received many complaints from community members about the flag-raising, which he sees as "picking a side."
"This conflict is something that’s really, really painful for our community," he said Friday.
Nason said he’s concerned about the implications of flag-raisings and believes the city should reconsider the entire practice.
"(We should) ensure that we’re not… raising one community above the other. So perhaps it’s time to reconsider the honorary flag-raising to ensure that situations like this do not occur," he said.
The leader of a community group that represents Winnipeggers from Kosovo and Albania said she’s surprised by the backlash, as she sees the flag-raising event as a celebration of diversity.
"We’d like to invite everybody to reflect (on) the lessons of the war and embrace our Canadian values of peace (and) diversity," said Kozeta Miliku, president of the Albanian-Canadian Community of Manitoba.
Miliku said Kosovo flag-raisings have taken place in several Canadian cities without issue.
In a written statement, a city spokesperson said Winnipeg allows one-day flag-raisings for nations recognized by the Canadian government, which includes Kosovo.
In an email, the mayor’s office said Mayor Brian Bowman will continue to support that policy.