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National Symbols

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Coat of Arms
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National Flag

National Flower

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Carib Wood of Bois Caraibe (Sabinea Carinalis)

 

National Flag*:
               
Another symbol which has begun to sink beneath the level of the consciousness in the mind of Dominicans is the Dominica National Flag. The meaning of our flag is easier to understand than the Coat of Arms as the design did not have to confirm to the meticulously exact standards of heraldry.

Every country has a national flag which is seen as the prime expression of national identity and the supreme mark of independence. We proudly witnessed this at midnight on 2nd November,1978, when our National Flag was hoisted to the strains of our National Anthem, “Isle of Beauty”.

At the stroke of the midnight hour chiming in our Independence, our National Flag was unfurled for the first time, ushering in the dawn of a new era. Immediately before this Union Jack and our Associate Statehood Flag were lowered, reverently and with dignity, closing another chapter of our history.

The Dominica National Flag is the proudest emblem of our country. It is the sing by which we are known to all the world; a new star set in the heavens joining its sister stars in that constellation which gleams upon the Free Nations of the earth. It is our People’s Flag; the flag appointed by Destiny to fly over our land, hopefully, into eternity. This is the Flag to which we pay homage from the 3rd November, 1978 onward.

A National Flag is expected to be held in reverence by the citizens of a country. It is therefore, our duty to ensure that our Flag be accorded the honour and respect due to it, that it is not subjected to any form of indignity or humiliation.

Sir Edward Hansley, put it this way: “It is not so much the flag itself that stirs our souls as the deeds that were done beneath it”. This is generally true whether the deeds are those of war or of peace, or of a nation “rightfully struggling to be free”.

The following is the heraldric description of the National Flag of the Commonwealth of Dominica:
                                           Vert three pallets conjoined in pale and as many bars similarly conjoined in fess or argent and sable overall as a roundel gules charged with Sisserou (Amazona imperialis) facing sinister perched on a wooden twig proper within an orle of ten mullets. Also vert.

  Meaning of the National Flag*:

(1)               The flag of the Commonwealth of Dominica consists of a circular emblem of red bearing a Sisserou parrot (Amazona imperialis) standing on a twig encircled by ten lime green stars. This is superimposed on three vertical and three horizontal stripes of yellow, black and white forming a triple colored cross against a general background of forest green.

(2)             The central emblem presents the National Bird of Dominica, the Sisserou parrot, also a symbol of flight toward greater heights and fulfillment of aspiration. The Parrot also comes from the Dominica Coat of Arms, thus symbolizing the official Seal of the country.

(3)             The ten lime green stars- the traditional symbol of hope –represent the ten parishes of the country, each with equal status, thus the equality of our people. The red central emblem symbolizes Dominica’s commitment to social justice.

(4)             The yellow, black and white stripes from a triple colored cross representing the Trinity of God. The cross itself demonstrates belief in God since the Commonwealth of Dominica is founded upon the principles that acknowledge the supremacy of God.

(5)             The yellow stripe represents the sunshine of our land, our main agricultural produce: Citrus and Bananas; and is also a symbol of the Carib and Arawak people, the first inhabitants of the Island.

(6)             The White stripe represents the clarity of our rivers and waterfalls and the purity of aspiration of our people.

(7)             The black stripe represents the rich black soil of our island on which our agriculture is based as well as our African heritage.

(8)             The general background of dark green symbolizes our rich verdant forest and the general lushness.

 

National Flower, Sabinea Carinalis*:
                                                                 The flower honoured as our National Flower is a wild xerophitic plant known botanically as Sabinea carinalis, commonly known as Carib Wood or ‘Bois Caraibe’. It was legislated as the National Flower, along with the Coat of Arms and National Flag in 1978.(The National Emblems of Dominica Act, 1978)(Act No.18 of 1978).

As an indigenous plant, one of the reasons for which it was selected, it has survived our entire history, and hopefully, will be with us for all time. It can therefore be said to represent the continuity of our young people.

When in bloom, it displays precocious bright scarlet flowers along the entire length of its branches, and is found growing along dry coastal areas. Distribution in the wild is low, but it is an extremely hardy plant. When grown at high elevations, even in good soil, ‘Bois Caraibe’ will be bushy but will not flower profusely. Around April, when in full bloom, the plant presents a magnificent spectacle.

Its hardiness and scarlet flowers are reminiscent of our strong rugged and resourceful people with an ability to survive and overcome problems, and Dominica’s ability to triumph despite seemingly insurmountable obstacles.



The President’s Ensign*:

                                             Reference must also be made to the President’s Ensign which incorporates the Coat of Arms on a forest green background.

Following the tradition of independent countries the President, who is also the Head of the State, is empowered under section 14 of the President’s Emoluments and Conditions of Officer Act, 1982 (Act No. 16 of 1982) to use a personal standard.

It is important to note that unlike the National Flag, the President’s Ensign should be flown continuously over a building day and night once the President is in residence. This rule also applies to the ensign used on the President’s means of transport.

The Ensign being a personal standard is never flown at half-mast except in the event of the death of the President. Should and occasion demand that a flag be flown at half-mast, at the President’s residence or office, the National Flag should be used.

Like the National Flag, there are certain codes of etiquette which apply. For example, on special days of national significance, the National Flag should be flown at the President’s Official Residence together with the President’s Ensign to the left of it, and at the same height but on separate flagstaffs. 



The National Bird, The Sisserou parrot*:

                                                                              The Sisserou parrot (Amazona imperialis), “The Pride of Dominica”, is generally recognized as the National Bird of Dominica. The parrot figures prominently on the Coat of Arms, the National Flag, the Public Seal, The Mace of the House of Assembly and Dominica’s Honours for Meritorious Service to the Country.

The Sisserou Parrot is protected and it is probably among the oldest species of Amazon parrot in the world, and is found only in Dominica. Unfortunately this bird is most vulnerable, particularly when young, but through evolution, it has adapted to various changes in its habitat. Even more unfortunately, it has not been able to adapt to the bad influences of man.

Description of the Sisserou Parrot*:

The Sisserou Parrot ( Amazonia imperialis) is a shy but very attractive native of the tropical forest of the Commonwealth of Dominica. Sisserou parrots have lived on the island for several hundred thousand years and can live to be very old (over 70 years), in captivity, some have outlived their captors. In the wild, however, their life span may be much shorter.
The adult is 18 to 20 inches (450-510mm) long,8 inches (20 mm) wide and weighs 2 pounds (0.9 kg). When the wings are spread out, the distance from tip to tip is 30 inches (0.76 mm).
The Sisserou Parrot, the larger of the two parrots of the Commonwealth of Dominica, is a heavy bodied bird. It is well proportioned, beautifully stream-lined with colored feathers and a curved beak characteristic of all parrots.
The upper parts and back are mostly green with greenish blue on the head and the eyes are red. A dark violet band, appearing black, is visible across the hindneck; the tail and under parts are of a purplish violet hue. There is a red streak on the wing tips.
The Sisserou is seldom seen in populated areas. It is found mainly in rain forests, chiefly at high elevations.
Parrots pair off themselves for life and are extremely faithful to each other. A parrot will only seek another mate when its mate dies, and even then, if it is old, it may simply grieve to death  rather than find a new mate.
The Sisserou is most vulnerable when young and it faces the greatest danger while still in chick stage. It is then exposed to further danger from three species of birds ( Grive, GriGri and Malfani), snakes and the oppossum.

 


*"Commonwealth of Dominica: The Symbols of Nationhood", Published by the Ministry of Community Development & Social Affairs.
Information provided by the Permanent Mission of the Commonwealth of Dominica to the OAS.

 

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