Canada Day

June 27th, 2014 by Abhi Saini

Canada Day celebrates the passage of the Constitution Act on July 1st, 1867.

Then known as the British North America Act, the legislation united four provinces – Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Province of Canada (now Ontario and Quebec) – to form the Dominion of Canada. The anniversary of this event was first celebrated on July 1st, 1879 as Dominion Day.

Here are few interesting milestones that help commemorate Canada’s journey as a nation:

Many events will be held to celebrate Canada Day across the country. Visit your city or town’s website for more information on local events and celebrations.


Read some of our past Canada Day blogs:

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Family Day

February 13th, 2014 by Abhi Saini

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.

We have also blogged about a number of other special events, like Victoria Day, Canada Day, Labour Day and the August civic holiday.

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The 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics

February 6th, 2014 by Dan Allan

The 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics begin today in Sochi, Russia. Approximately 2,500 athletes from 87 nations will be taking part in 98 events over the next two and half weeks. The 2014 Paralympic Winter Games begin on March 7th.

Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics

Canada hosted the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, and led the pack with 14 gold medals. We will be well-represented in Sochi: Canada is sending 221 athletes to the games, including 100 women – the most female athletes ever sent by Canada. Forty-six members of the Canadian team are previous medalists, and 16-year-old Gabrielle Daleman is the youngest member of the team. Six-time Olympian Hayley Wickenheiser, pictured below, will carry the Canadian flag at the opening ceremonies.

Hayley Wickenheiser

Sochi was selected as the 2014 Winter Olympic host city in 2007, beating out Pyeongchang, South Korea and Salzburg, Austria. This is the first Olympics to be held in Russia since the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow. Canada and several other countries boycotted the 1980 Moscow Olympics in response to the occupation of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union (which is now known as Russia). In turn, the Soviets boycotted the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.

The Sochi Olympics have been marked by several controversies, including concerns over security and human rights. These will be the most expensive modern Olympics, and there are also concerns over corruption.

 Sochi 2014

The Sochi Olympic motto is “Hot. Cool. Yours.” The mascots are the Polar Bear, the Hare, the Snow Leopard, Ray of Light and Snowflake.

Which Olympic moment are you most looking forward to?

We also wrote two blogs on the London 2012 Summer Olympics:

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Human Rights Day

December 10th, 2013 by Abhi Saini

Human Rights Day has been observed on December 10 each year since 1950. The day commemorates the adoption and proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations General Assembly on December 10, 1948.  The declaration was drafted to establish a “standard principal” of human rights after the Second World War.

The declaration prescribes fundamental rights and freedoms for all human beings and prohibits all forms of discrimination based on “race, colour, sex, language, religion, national or social origin, property, birth, opinion or other status.” 


Canada has played an important role in recognizing the human rights of persons with disabilities, and contributed to the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Canada became one of the first countries in the world to sign the Convention in 2007, and it was ratified by the federal government in 2010.

The Convention is very similar to Canada’s own Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees legal equality to individuals with physical disability. We highlighted how provincial legislatures have made efforts to increase accessibility for our International Day of Persons with Disabilities blog.

Since the establishment of the UN in 1945, Canada has been one of the world’s greatest advocates for human rights and promoting human equality and democratic values. It is worth noting that Canadian Louise Arbour served as the High Commissioner for Human Rights from 2004 to 2008.

In Canada, human rights are protected by federal, provincial and territorial legislation. You can learn more about human rights laws in Canada by visiting Canadian Human Rights Commission website.

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International Day of Persons with Disabilities

December 3rd, 2013 by Dan Allan

December 3 is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

Celebrated by the United Nations since 1992, the day “provides an opportunity to further raise awareness of disability and accessibility” and “further the global efforts to promote accessibility, remove all types of barriers, and to realize the full and equal participation of persons with disabilities in society.”

Here are some examples of how legislatures across Canada have made efforts to increase accessibility:

  • Nova Scotia: Rookie MLA Kevin Murphy made history when he was chosen to be the first paraplegic Speaker of the Nova Scotia legislature this fall. Renovations were completed to add a ramp to the Speaker’s dais and all MLA offices in the province must now be wheelchair accessible after a new rule was approved by a legislature committee in August.
  • British Columbia: The British Columbia legislature opened a new wheelchair entrance this past March to improve access for those with disabilities. Former Paralympian Michelle Stilwell and quadriplegic former Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan were elected in the May 2013 election, and paraplegic Stephanie Cadieux – first elected in 2009 – was re-elected.
  • Alberta: MLA Heather Forsyth, who has hearing loss, brought a service dog into a provincial legislature for the first time in Canada last month. Quadriplegic MLA Kent Hehr also currently serves in the legislature.
  • Ontario: Lieutenant-Governor David Onley is paralyzed after a childhood battle with polio. Onley uses a scooter, and the side door to the Ontario legislature was renovated to allow him an accessible entrance to the building. MPP Gary Malkowski, who served in the Ontario legislature from 1990 to 1995,  was Canada’s first deaf parliamentarian. A law was passed to allow sign language interpreters on the floor of the legislature, and Malkowski became the first deaf parliamentarian in the world to address a legislature in sign language.
  • Federal: Elected in 2004, MP Steven Fletcher is the first quadriplegic to serve in the House of Commons. Parliament was renovated and his election led to the creation of the “Stranger to the House” position, where a personal aide is permitted on the floor of the House despite not being an MP, an Officer of the House or a parliamentary page.

Do you have an example from your local or provincial government we should include? Please let us know!

We have also taken steps to make our programming more accessible. In partnership with Elections Ontario, we worked with W. Ross MacDonald School for the Visually Impaired and Deafblind and E.C. Drury School for the Deaf  on a special pilot project during the 2011 Ontario Student Vote program that ensured the program was available for all students in the province. Here’s a video summary:

Visit the United Nations’ Enable website for more information and ways to get involved in the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

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Sports Day in Canada

November 28th, 2013 by Dan Allan

Sports Day in Canada is held in communities across Canada “to celebrate the power of sport, build community and national spirit and facilitate healthy, active living.”

Politics is often described as a sport and, fittingly, our elected officials also play a large role in building communities and our national spirit.

Here’s our list of notable Canadian athletes that have made the switch to politics:

  • Lionel Conacher – Voted Canada’s top athlete of the first half of the 20th century, Conacher won the 1921 Grey Cup with the Toronto Argonauts and was a two-time Stanley Cup champion. Conacher later entered politics, serving as both a Liberal MPP (from 1937 to 1943) and MP (from 1949 to 1954).
  • Ken Dryden – Dryden is a six-time Stanley Cup champion with the Montreal Canadiens and a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame. Dryden later became a Liberal MP, serving from 2004 to 2011.
  • Martha Hall Findlay – Findlay was a silver medallist at the 1976 Canadian Ski Championship and was a member of the national training squad. Findlay later served as the Liberal MP for Willowdale from 2008 to 2011, and ran for the federal Liberal leadership in 2006 and 2013.
  • Peter Fonseca – Fonseca represented Canada at the 1996 Olympics as a marathon runner. Fonseca was elected as a Liberal MPP in 2003 and served until 2011, when he resigned to run federally.
  • Nancy Greene – Greene won gold and silver medals in alpine skiing for Canada at the 1968 Olympics. Greene was named Canada’s Female Athlete of the 20th Century, is a member of the Order of Canada and has served as a Conservative Senator since 2009.
  • Daniel Igali – Born in Nigeria, Igali won a gold medal for Canada in wrestling for Canada at the 2000 Olympics. Igali ran as a Liberal in the 2005 BC provincial election, but was defeated by the NDP.
  • Normie Kwong – Kwong was the first Chinese Canadian to play professional football, winning four Grey Cups during his career. Kwong ran for the Alberta PC in the 1971 provincial election and served as the 16th Lieutenant Governor of Alberta from 2005 to 2010.
  • George Laraque – Laraque played in the NHL from 1996 to 2010, most notably for the Montreal Canadiens. Laraque served as a deputy leader of the Green Party of Canada from July 2010 to October 2013.
  • Frank Mahovlich – Mahovlich played on six Stanley Cup-winning teams and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Mahovlich served as a Liberal in the Senate from 1998 to 2013.
  • Gene Makowsky – Makowsky played 17 seasons in the CFL for the Saskatchewan Roughriders. In 2011, he retired to run for the Saskatchewan Party during the provincial election. Makowsky won and represents the Regina Dewdney riding.
  • Howie Meeker – Meeker spent 10 seasons in the NHL and won the Stanley Cup as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Meeker spent two years as a Progressive Conservative MP while playing for the Leafs after winning a by-election in Waterloo South in 1951.
  • Larry Smith – Smith played in the CFL, and later served as league commissioner. Smith was appointed to the Senate in 2010, and ran as a Conservative candidate in the 2011 federal election.
  • Michelle Stilwell – Stilwell has won gold medals for Canada at the 2000, 2008 and 2013 Paralympic Games. Stilwell was elected to the British Columbia legislature in 2013 as a member of the Liberal Party.

Did we forget to include anyone on our list? Let us know!

We’ve written a few other blogs about the connection between sports and politics:

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Sir Wilfrid Laurier Day

November 20th, 2013 by Abhi Saini

Sir Wilfrid Laurier Day is observed on November 20th each year in Canada.

Sir Wilfrid Laurier served as the Prime Minister of Canada from 1896 to 1911 and is one of the most prominent and respected figures in Canadian history.

Sir Wilfrid Laurier

This week’s blog is dedicated to Laurier’s legacy and discusses some key facts and accomplishments from his life and political career:

  • Laurier was born on November 20th, 1841 in the village of Saint-Lin, Quebec. 
  • He obtained a degree in Law from McGill University in 1864 and served as the editor of a small newspaper called Le Défricheur in L’Avenir early in his career.
  • He was elected and served as alderman, mayor and county warden in Arthabaska Regional County.
  • Laurier was elected to represent the provincial riding of Drummond-Arthabaska in 1871. Laurier resigned in 1874 to enter federal politics.
  • Laurier was elected to the House of Commons in 1874 and was appointed as the Minister of Inland Revenue in the cabinet of Prime Minister Alexander Mackenzie.
  • Laurier was chosen as the leader of the Liberal Party in 1887 and became the first francophone prime minister of Canada after winning the 1896 election.
  • In 1897, Laurier received his knighthood during Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee.
  • After reaching a compromise with Great Britain during 1899, he made the controversial decision to send a volunteer battalion to fight in South Africa’s Second Anglo-Boer war. More than 7,000 Canadians served during the war. 
  • Laurier’s time as prime minister saw increased immigration, increase settlement of the West, and the beginning of the construction of a second transcontinental railway. By the end of his term, Canada witnessed a population growth of 2 million.
  • In 1905, Laurier established the two new provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta.
  • In 1910, Laurier proposed the Naval Service Act and upon the bill’s approval, he formally established the Royal Canadian Navy.
  • Laurier passed away on February 17th, 1919 at the age of 71.
  • Nine elementary and secondary schools are named after Laurier, as well as Wilfrid Laurier University.
  • Laurier is currently depicted on the five dollar bill.

Laurier dedicated his life towards maintaining unity between French and English Canada and his future-oriented vision initiated the development and settlement of western Canada. It has been said that Laurier helped usher Canada into the 20th century during his fifteen years in office as prime minister.

To read more about Sir Wilfrid Laurier and his legacy, you can visit the Canada’s History website or the Quebec Heritage website.

Click here to take a virtual tour of Laurier House in Ottawa, which was home to two Canadian prime ministers: Sir Wilfrid Laurier and William Lyon Mackenzie King.

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Remembrance Day

November 11th, 2013 by Abhi Saini

Remembrance Day is observed on November 11 each year in Canada.  Remembrance Day is a public holiday and federal statutory holiday, and is also a statutory holiday in most provinces and territories (with the exception of Nova Scotia, Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec).

The first Remembrance Day in Canada was observed throughout the Commonwealth in 1919. It was then known as Armistice Day and commemorated the end of the First World War, which ended on November 11, 1918.

Thanksgiving and Armistice Day were held on the same day from 1921 to 1931. In 1931, the federal government made amendments to the Armistice Day Act after Comox-Alberni MP Alan Neill introduced a bill to hold Armistice Day on a fixed date (November 11) and proposed the use of the word “Remembrance” instead of “Armistice.” 

The Poppy

The poppy is the symbol of Remembrance Day as the red flowers grew on the graves of fallen soldiers in France and Belgium following the First World War. 

A poppy.

This phenomenon was captured in the famous poem “In Flanders Field,” written by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae while serving with the Canadian Artillery in 1915.

The Royal Canadian Legion suggests that the poppy should be worn on your left lapel, or as “close to the heart as possible.”


In Ottawa, veterans will gather at the National War Memorial for the annual Remembrance Day ceremony. The memorial was unveiled by King George VI on May 21, 1939, only months before the beginning of the Second World War.

We will be observing a moment of silence at our office, and we encourage you to do so as well to honour the brave Canadian soldiers who fought, and continue to fight, to protect our country.

How you can participate?

Remembrance Day provides us with an opportunity to extend our respect and gratitude to those who sacrificed their lives to protect our nation. You can participate in Remembrance Day in following ways:

News Highlights

  • Soldiers will be “proudly on parade” during the Remembrance Day ceremony in Ottawa.
  • According to a recent poll, “almost three in 10 Canadians” plan to attend a Remembrance Day ceremony this year. This number is higher than last year and has “steadily risen” over the past few decades.
  • The same poll also suggested that 82% Canadians are in favor to designate Remembrance Day as a national holiday. The House of Commons is currently reviewing a private member’s bill to amend Holidays Act to declare Remembrance Day as national holiday.

Should Remembrance Day be declared as a National Holiday? Let us know what you think.


Revisit our Remembrance Day blogs from years past:

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Media Literacy Week: Marketing and Consumerism

November 1st, 2013 by Dan Allan

Media Literacy Week is an annual campaign held by MediaSmarts and the Canadian Teachers’ Federation to increase the media literacy of Canadians so they can better understand the nature, techniques and impacts of media messages and productions.

Media Literacy Week

The theme of this year’s Media Literacy Week, which runs from November 4th to 8th, is Marketing and Consumerism. The goal of the week is to encourage educators and parents to talk to children and teens about the marketing they encounter on a daily basis.  

Media Smarts has created a list of tips for talking to young people about advertising. It includes:

  • Starting young: Starting the discussion about advertising at an early age encourages active – not passive – consumption of commercial messages.
  • Explaining how advertising works: Discuss how the job of marketers is to play on human insecurities and implying that their products will improve our lives and bring us happiness.
  • Pointing out the tricks of the trade: Explain how advertisers use many methods to encourage us to buy their products. These include “pulling on our heartstrings,” using misleading words, making exaggerated claims about a product and using cartoon characters of celebrities to sell products.
  • Explaining how marketers target young people: Explain how marketers target image-conscious young people with messages about being “cool” and attractive.

Some of the same criteria could also be used when discussing and teaching about political advertising!

Are you interested in bringing Media Literacy Week into your classroom? Click here to access Media Smarts’ teacher resources. Media Smarts also partnered with Concerned Children’s Advertisers to create a six-part series of “Media Minutes” for elementary school students on media literacy.

A number of Media Literacy Week activities are taking place across Canada and online. Click here for a full list of events.

The Manitoba Teachers’ Society (MTS), Manitoba Education and the Manitoba Association of Computing Educators (ManACE) have “teamed up” for Media Literacy Week. Students can submit their photos and videos to their Instagram Challenge.

Check out some of our past Media Literacy Week blogs:

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Ontario Local Government Week

October 17th, 2013 by Dan Allan

Ontario’s fifth annual Local Government Week is being held from October 20 to 26.

The Province of OntarioThe Association of Municipal Mangers, Clerks and Treasurers of Ontario (AMCTO) and the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) have partnered to develop Local Government Week. The week aims to increase youth and public awareness about the important role local government plays in Ontario communities and provides a range of opportunities to educate students on the operation and importance of civic institutions.

Local Government Week

The Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing partnered with AMCTO to create materials and more information about engaging young people in local government. These include resource guides that can be used to teach students about local government  in English and French, as well as a number of resources for teachers, school board trustees and municipalities for all grades and subject areas.

The Ontario Public School Boards’ Association (OPSBA) is also working to raise civic awareness among Ontario students. OPSBA is encouraging school board trustees to arrange classroom sessions with Grade 5 Social Studies and Grade 10 Civics students in their ward to discuss the important democratic role of the trustee.

Interested in bringing Local Government Week to your classroom? Here are some ideas for how to get involved:

  • Debate a school board trustee on a school issue
  • Hold a Mayor for a Day student essay contest
  • Host a mock council
  • Tour your Town Hall
  • Organize a “Lunch and Learn” on local government

For example, the Town of Cobourg is holding a Special Council Meeting that will appoint a local student as “Mayor for a Day.” Students from local schools were invited to submit short essay entries on why they would make a great mayor.

CIVIX is proud to support Local Government Week and encourage all Canadian schools and municipalities to participate in local government activities throughout the school year.

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