Many Canadians will enjoy a long weekend this month! The date and name may vary, but for most it is known as Family Day. Family Day is not a national statutory holiday, but it is observed in seven provinces and one territory.
The holiday is known as Islander Day in Prince Edward Island, Louis Riel Day in Manitoba, Heritage Day in Nova Scotia and the Yukon and Family Day in British Columbia, Ontario, Alberta and Saskatchewan.
Family Day is observed on the second Monday in February in British Columbia, and the third Monday in February in Alberta, Ontario and Saskatchewan (coinciding with the American Presidents’ Day holiday).
Alberta was the first province to enact the holiday, first recognizing Family Day in 1990 to promote families. The holiday was subsequently created in Saskatchewan in 2007 and Ontario in 2008.
In BC the holiday was created in 2013 to “give people a break during the months-long stretch between Christmas and Easter.” Residents chose the date by voting in an online poll.
Nova Scotia will begin observing Family Day in 2015. The name is still under debate and children are invited to submit their suggestions.
Islander Day was introduced in PEI in 2009. Originally held on the second Monday of February, the holiday was moved to the third Monday in February in 2010 to match Family Day in other provinces.
Louis Riel Day was first celebrated in Manitoba in 2008. The holiday is held on the third Monday in February, and the name was suggested by students in honour of the Métis leader considered the “Father of Manitoba.” Ontario celebrates Louis Riel Day in November.
Heritage Day is held in the Yukon on the Friday before the last Sunday in February. The holiday was created in 1973 to “preserve and promote Canada’s natural, architectural, and historical heritage.”Alberta celebrates Heritage Day in August.
Beginning in 2015, Nova Scotia Heritage Day will fall on the third Monday in February. Each year it will honour a different person or event, chosen by Nova Scotian school children.
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