Family Day, A Great Idea Since 1989

Pipestone Flyer

On February 16th, 2015, By-the-Lake Park in Wetaskiwin was a flurry of activity (and snow) as happy families and friends participated in the annual Family Day celebration hosted by the Rotary Club and Catholic Social Services, Sign of Hope.

Guests were provided with a fun-filled day of activities such as horse-drawn sleigh rides, ice skating, tobogganing, RCMP, Wetaskiwin Fire Services and EMT displays and an open water rescue demonstration. A steady flow of people entered and  departed the By-the-Lake Park Hall where they were treated to complimentary hot dogs, doughnuts, and hot chocolate. After warming up in the Hall, people filed down the pathway towards the open-water section of By-the-Lake Park. Wetaskiwin Fire Services (WFS) convinced Councillor Neilson that they had practised and were proficient in winter open water rescue and that he would make and excellent ‘subject’ for a rescue demonstration.

It wasn’t like that in 1989 as the province did not have civic holiday in the month of February recognizing Family Day in Alberta. That was about to change. Premier of Alberta, Don Getty, felt it was important for Albertans to take a day off from work and spend time with their families. He proposed the new holiday that was intended to emphasize family values. In 1990 the new holiday, Heritage Day was proclaimed by Lieutenant Governor, Helen Hunley.

This new holiday in Alberta was unique. Alberta was the only province to have a holiday in February until Saskatchewan offered a similar holiday in 2007. Today Family Day is a statutory holiday occurring on the third Monday of February in the provinces of Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, and Saskatchewan. It is observed on the second Monday of February in British Columbia. In the province of Manitoba the holiday is referred to Louis Riel Day and in Prince Edward Island as Islander Day.

The new holiday was not popular with everyone. Many employers felt that an additional statutory holiday was an unnecessary financial burden. In response to the criticism, the holiday of Heritage Day was downgraded to a civic holiday, meaning employers are not required to observe this day. Under Alberta law, the employer may choose to observe Heritage Day as a general holiday, under which rules applying to general holiday pay will be used.

As Family Day is a provincial holiday, federal employees in all provinces (such as public servants and postal workers) work on this day.

Pictured: Samantha Codrance and Riley Gregg were happy visiting the RCMP display on Family Day. Photo by Barry McDonald. See more event photos in this week’s paper.

Just Posted

City of Wetaskiwin saves nearly $1M, restructures staff

‘Streamlining’ results in 10 positions eliminated at City of Wetaskiwin

Team Alberta ends Games strongly with 44 medals in week one

Alberta is currently sitting in second place of the medal standings

PHOTOS: Alberta male team takes silver in Winter Games relay speed skating

Alberta was close behind Quebec in the team relay speed skating finals

Alberta was crowned champions in Wheelchair Basketball at Canada Winter Games

Ontario won silver while Quebec took home the bronze medal

Maskwacis RCMP seek three in home invasion case

Maskwacis RCMP investigate home invasion

National Energy Board approves Trans Mountain pipeline again

Next step includes cabinet voting on the controversial expansion

A ‘warm embrace’ for grieving parents at funeral of seven young fire victims

Mourners offered love and support to Kawthar Barho, mother of seven children

Indigenous leaders, politicians say Trans Mountain report flawed

The National Energy Board has endorsed an expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline a second time

WATCH: Pet therapy brings calmness to Winter Games athletes

Canada Winter Games in Red Deer continue on until March 2nd

R. Kelly charged with 10 counts of sexual abuse

R&B star has been accused of sexual misconduct involving women and underage girls for years

Child advocacy centre raising funds through Dream Home Lottery

The child advocacy centre in Red Deer uses its resources to help kids all over Central Alberta

Trudeau tells Canadians to listen to clerk in SNC-Lavalin matter

Privy Council clerk Michael Wernick delivered a blunt assessment at the House of Commons justice

Mueller report looming, new attorney general in hot seat

Robert Mueller is required to produce a confidential report to pursue or decline prosecutions

B.C. woman shares story of abuse with church officials ahead of Vatican summit

Leona Huggins was the only Canadian in the gathering ahead of a historic summit at the Vatican

Most Read