Family Day brings everyone together

A day off in the middle of February is a totally new experience for me, as Ontario has never had Family Day as a holiday until this year.

  • Feb. 19, 2008 4:00 p.m.

A day off in the middle of February is a totally new experience for me, as Ontario has never had Family Day as a holiday until this year. To me it is a foreign concept to take a day off of work in the middle of the cold month of February. While in post-secondary and high school there was only a winter break to look forward to but not a day where everyone was encouraged to be with family.

In the 21st century the look of a family is very different than it was 50 years ago or maybe even 10 years ago.

Canadian families

On a day for families it makes one think what a family is in today’s society. If you look at statistical information for the 2006 census it enumerated 8,896,840 census families up 6.3 per cent from 2001. This broke down to 6,105,910 married-couple families, which is an increase of 3.5 per cent from 2001. Common-law-couples also increased almost 20 per cent to 1,376,865 while the number of lone-parent families increased 7.8 per cent to 1,414,060. Married couple families accounted for almost 70 per cent of all census families and common-law-couples rose to 15.5 percent.

For the first time in a Canadian census same-sex married couples were counted, in total there were 45,345 same sex couples of which 16.5 per cent were married.

Also startling from the 2006 census was the fact that more than half (51.5 per cent) of the adult population was unmarried which means they were never married, divorced, separated or widowed.

Ponoka’s family

With different definitions of what a family is, it makes Family Day even more interesting. What about someone like myself who is unmarried and living thousands of kilometers away from my parents? Should family day just be for those who are married and have children who they wish to spend more time with? Just like the other statutory holidays almost everyone has the day off except maybe doctors, firefighters or RCMP. When you think of what family means to each and every one of us it is truly different and unique. One thing that is especially unique to a small town like Ponoka is everyone feels like family. I was able to head down to the Family Day celebrations and say hello to many friends and some who to me feel like my family. Ponoka is such a welcoming town and most who live here care deeply about the community. If a job needs to be done one of our many volunteer organizations will step up and get the job done. In a big town you don’t know anyone but in Ponoka you can walk down the street and say hello to more than one person you know. It’s a great town and is something that we should all take pride in either by picking up some trash on the sidewalk or committing a random act of kindness. There were many people at the Family Day festivities who volunteered their time in making the day a success and you always hear that it takes a village or a town to raise a child and with the outpouring of community support on Family Day on Feb. 18 shows that Ponoka is invested in raising a strong and prosperous family.

Alberta first

Feb. 18 was the first ever Family Day in Ontario and for some it was not a relaxing day as contracts were up in the air as to who should or could work. Public servants were punching the clock and some families were struggling to find a babysitter for their children out of school.

Alberta was the first province to initiate a Family Day with the Family Day Act in 1989 by Premier Don Getty to recognize and preserve the values of home and family on which pioneers built the province.

Saskatchewan and Manitoba also celebrate holidays on Feb. 18 but Manitoba calls the new holiday Louis Riel Day. Is it fair that a few provinces get a day off in a month that some dread because of the weather and stress from after the holidays? New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton is asking Prime Minister Stephen Harper to declare Family Day a holiday for all Canadians on the third Monday of each February. Layton thinks it should be a holiday for ‘hard working’ Canadians.

A day off is a good thing to let you relax and re-charge your battery but with the changing dynamics of what a family really is, does the emphasis have to be on the family? What about people whose parents went through a nasty divorce or deceased and do not have a family of their own.

Family Day is a great holiday but if it is declared a national holiday it should be given another name such as the civic holiday in August or Prime Minister’s Day when our history is honoured. Either way it was a great day to skate, eat hotdogs, catch up on work and enjoy my ‘family’ in Ponoka.

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