Celebrate aboriginal heritage with separate holiday

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While honouring the contributions our First Nations people have made to Canadian society with a public holiday seems like a good idea, attempting to rewrite history to do so is something many Canadians would probably be hesitant to support.

Over the weekend, Canadians celebrated their British heritage by observing Victoria Day, marking the birthday of the country’s longest serving monarch. However, a group that includes some prominent Canadians wants to change the name of Victoria Day to Victoria and First People Day.

Actor and group spokesman Peter Keleghan said the new name would allow Canadians the opportunity to honour both the Crown and our First Nations people. He said the group is using social media in the attempt to spread the word of its online petition. Singer-songwriter Susan Aglukark, NDP leadership candidate Brian Topp, author Margaret Atwood, Green Party leader Elizabeth May and actor Gordon Pinsent have already signed the petition.

Canada already celebrates its aboriginal culture each year on June 21, but, unlike Victoria Day, it’s not a public holiday. The group is suggesting that by celebrating both holidays in May it would recognize the relationship between the British Crown and Canada’s indigenous people and provide an opportunity for all Canadians to participate in the diverse heritage of the country.

Not surprisingly, monarchists are not overly enthusiastic about the idea. Celebrating Queen Victoria is a significant way for them to celebrate our British heritage, the fact we’re a member of the Commonwealth and were at one time a British colony that still holds the queen as our head of state. They may view the notion of a shared holiday as a veiled attempt to downplay the role of the monarchy in our nation’s history. Saying that, they would not support any attempt to dilute their celebration by sharing with another group, while many Canadians will have the opinion that we should not have to apologize for our culture to appease or please others.

It is important for Canadians to celebrate everything that’s special about being Canadian, and that means recognizing, honouring and paying tribute to the people who arrived several thousand years before our European forefathers.

The easy solution would be to make National Aboriginal Day in June a public holiday, but that’s likely to come with some backlash from the private sector in terms of lost competitiveness. If not in June, another suggestion would be to consider a holiday in February when many feel a mid-winter holiday is important or in early August when many companies already take a civic holiday.



Organizations: First Nations, NDP, Green Party

Geographic location: Canada, British Crown

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Recent comments

  • Arthur Daily
    May 25, 2013 - 10:56

    This whole idea is just crazy aboriginal holiday they have a holiday every day. The people who pay for their well being need the holiday. I as a tax payer would like a holiday in June. I am not against the aboriginal people as a whole but would enjoy not paying so much tax and have another paid holiday.

    • Laurie
      May 27, 2013 - 13:38

      Authur Daily..... You sound totally against aboriginal people and I am ashamed of your comments. Anyone who says "I am not against....BUT..." is certainly against. Look into it a bit deeper, I dare you. Our whole country needs a holiday from people with your attitude...

    • Marie
      June 06, 2014 - 22:49

      The first two sentences of your reply to, " Celebrate aboriginal holiday", certainly sound racist, there's no denying that! Your comments are uneducated as well!

  • Bob in N.S.
    May 22, 2013 - 11:43

    Biscuit, where do I start? By the sound of your reply I would guess very slowly.If you really read my comment you would have come across a statement explaining that I am against nobody. It's people such as you that try very hard to infringe on other peoples beliefs.If the native people of this land want to honor their heritage let them and I will celibrate with them just as I honor the British tradition. By the way I am of neither native or British lineage but both are of importance to me because Nova Scotia is my roots also.So before you make a fool of yourself again get your facts straight before you speak.

  • Biscuit
    May 22, 2013 - 07:57

    Change history? Such a boring and rhetorical statement thought up by people who harbour negative perceptions of other groups. Instead, it is actually "remembering history" so that it is not repeated. And by clown do you mean yourself? If we are to listen to the clown's advice then we're really no better than you ... and some of us are :)

  • Bob in N.S.
    May 22, 2013 - 07:06

    There was an episode of Seinfeld where the character George was in a heated discussion with a child's birthday party clown. The topic of the discussion was another clown called Bozo. George became very upset because the birthday clown had no idea who the famous clown of days gone by was. He then told George that he was living in the past and should just get over it. Now I am not for a moment saying that we should forget our heritage,but do we need to have it shoved at us under the guise of every group that wants to change history? I am not against the royal family,native canadians or anybody else. What I am against is this petty jealousy and snipeing that is never ending.Listen to the clown's advice.