The third Monday
Anybody who works for a living appreciates stat holidays. It is a Canadian tradition to live for the weekends and if it happens to be a long one, party on dude. As we prepare for our newest statutory holiday, Family Day on Feb.
Anybody who works for a living appreciates stat holidays. It is a Canadian tradition to live for the weekends and if it happens to be a long one, party on dude.
As we prepare for our newest statutory holiday, Family Day on Feb. 15, we should pause and reflect on the origins and traditions of this mid-winter interlude. It doesn’t have the status of the Victoria Day holiday or Canada Day celebrations but there must be something noteworthy about the third Monday in February.
Actually, not so much. Family Day in Canada is mostly a mish-mash of unrelated holidays and events that may or may not be celebrated somewhere. Participation may be optional depending on where you live.
Nobody sends Family Day greeting cards and there is no Family Day music. You might get the day off work or you might have the option of showing up for double time-and-a-half. Or it might just be an ordinary winter day.
Family Day was first declared in Alberta in 1990 to acknowledge the importance of family and community values to the pioneer settlers. Saskatchewan followed in 2007 and then Ontario in 2008.
That’s it. Three provinces recognize Family Day. However, other provinces have come up with their own ways to cure the February blues. Manitoba celebrates Louis Riel Day and as you would expect, in Prince Edward Island it’s Islander Day. This event isn’t exactly sweeping the nation.
By coincidence Family Day falls on Feb. 15 this year which is a very important day in Canadian history. It was on that day in 1965 that our new national flag was unfurled and the red maple leaf has been flapping in the breeze for almost 50 years now.
Some might remember the first Flag Day when Sheila Copps launched the One in a Million National Flag Challenge. Canadian flags were distributed free of charge to a million homes across the country. I still have mine. It comes out every Canada Day.
And so, Feb. 15 is National Flag of Canada Day. Also, the third Monday in February has been designated as National Heritage Day. Both of these are being advanced as potential national stat holidays. Family Day seems to have a huge identity crisis.
Here’s what I suggest. Let’s just call the third Monday in February a civic holiday and let each community name it what they want. It could be Family Day, Heritage Day or Flag Day or it could even be used to recognize local heroes or accomplishments.
For example, this year in Thunder Bay we could call it Chicks with Brooms Day in honor of the Krista McCarville rink and their excellent showing at the Tournament of Hearts. We all deserve a day off after a fine performance like that.
But before we get too nostalgic let’s not forget the real meaning of the third Monday in February – either a day off work or work for double time. And while we’re at it let’s think about other serious gaps in our stat holiday schedule.
How about the third Mondays in March, June and November? Why are these months being left out of the rotation?
And one more thing – every working Canadian should be granted one floating stat holiday per year. It could be used on any day of the year when you are expected to go to work but you just don’t feel like it. It would be called Prorogue Day and I don’t have to tell you who or what this stat holiday will recognize.
I wonder how Stephen Harper will celebrate Family Day.
Prime Minister Harper has a real dilemma on his hands. I’m sure he appreciates a day off just as much as other Canadians but he already prorogued his office some time ago. How can he take a stat holiday if he hasn’t been on the job for weeks?
And if he shows up for a photo opportunity somewhere on Family Day, does that mean he gets paid for the whole day and does he get double time for working on a stat holiday?
These are things that working Canadian taxpayers need to know.
Fortunately family and community are still important values here in Thunder Bay and Family Day is every day.
But if you’re looking for something to do here’s a suggestion Walter Aseff once gave me – spend some time with your family and call your mother.