Happy Victoria DayMonday, May 20, 2013 by: David Root
Call it what you will — Victoria Day, the May Long-Weekend, the May Two-Four — there is reason to celebrate: this is the first long weekend of the summer season.
True, it is still Spring — which, this year, only really started last week — but this is the weekend that people flock to Campgrounds and Cottages, fire-up their Bar-b-ques, and (the braver ones) even take their first swim of the season.
For someone like me who finds winters far too long, and far too dark, this is a very welcome time of year. The sun is rising before 6:00 am and setting after 9:00 pm.
Yesterday, after returning home from church, I tried to just relax. It took until about 5:00 pm for me to unwind enough to just sit and read. I kept finding things to do — laundry (7 loads), re-painting the mailbox, fixing the headlight on my van, trimming the pine branch that was dripping sap onto my van.
I’ve been very busy over the past several weeks, including having a fair number of call-outs to teach. I have been involved with Mustang Sally, including a week-long series of concerts, and most recently a day-long gig at the project ABCD Symposium.
I have also been busy with the various committees I serve on (some of which I chair) through the United Church, including the Board of Camp McDougall.
And, I have been spending evenings and Saturdays teaching driving.
So, I feel I deserve a long weekend.
But, as I said, it took most of yesterday to unwind enough to be able to relax and enjoy myself. Not that I don’t enjoy myself when I’m busy, but it’s so very nice to be able to relax.
Of course I’m not relaxing completely. I am writing this column on Monday morning — I haven’t even made breakfast, yet. I know I don’t have to, but I haven’t been writing as regularly as perhaps I should (I try to post a new column each week, but…) and the previous column had been up for over two weeks.
I do have a few things to get prepared for some of my committees — I might wait until tomorrow, but with most everything closed and no chance of being called-out, today might be the best day to get some work done.
Still, I plan on spending a large portion of the day relaxing.
Changing the name?
A group of “notable Canadians,” including author Margaret Atwood and actor Gordon Pinsett, have signed a petition asking the federal government to change the name of this holiday to Victoria and All Peoples Day.
They are wanting to include the First Nations people in this celebration.
There is a National Aboriginal Day on 21 June of each year, first proclaimed by the Governor-General Roméo Leblanc. It is not recognized as a Statutory Holiday, however, and these notable believe that if we change the name of Victoria Day we can also honour the contributions of the First Nations people in building this great country of ours.
I applaud the sentiment behind this, but I don’t believe that changing the name of an existing holiday is the right approach.
First of all, Victoria Day was proclaimed in honour of Queen Victoria, the longest-reigning queen in the world, and for whom an entire era was named.
It is also the day we officially celebrate the birthday of the reigning monarch.
I cannot find reference to this day being celebrated in honour of the settlement and development of the Dominion of Canada — later the Country of Canada.
That is celebrated on 1 July — Canada Day (originally Dominion Day).
There is a problem with making National Aboriginal Day a stat holiday; although most workers would gladly accept another extra-pay holiday, most business owners would not.
Stat holidays cost business owners — whether multi-national corporate entities like Walmart, Home Depot or Tim Horton’s, or local mom-and-pop retail shops and restaurants — a ton of money in stat pay.
Even if the business chooses to remain closed, they have to pay their staff. If they fit into the exemption and are able to open, they must pay the staff that does work at a premium rate.
In all fairness, there is no long weekend in June, and an extra day off would be welcome by many. There are those who suggest that we should have a long weekend in each month of the year.
I certainly believe that we should do more to celebrate the contributions of the First Nations people, and do more to restore right relations with them. For far too long we have believed the half-truths and outright lies that have been perpetuated regarding the First Nations peoples.
But lumping them in with the celebration of Queen Victoria and the current Monarch is to further relegate them to an after-thought, and not give them the credit they are due.
I’m looking out the window, and pleased that it is not raining… yet. The skies are overcast, the breeze is keeping the temperature below 20°C, and rain is in the forecast.
Many would have us believe this is because the Fair is in town.
It is true, more often than not when the Midway is here the weather is not the best: rain tends to predominate during the entire month of May.
The old saying “April showers bring May flowers” was coined in more southerly climes. Here in the Sault, May is the month with the second-most significant amount of rainfall (August is the wettest month).
Let’s be honest: it doesn’t rain because the Midway is in town. It rains because it is MAY. Unfortunately, May is when the Pee Wee has traditionally held its fund-raising fair, and the odds are high that it will rain at some point while it is here.
All we can do is get out and enjoy ourselves as best we can. Go camping, or to the cottage (yes, I know — we call it “camp” here.), take a walk or a bike ride, go fishing, go catch a movie (I plan on seeing Star Trek later today), do some yard work or catch up on chores around the house, or just read a good book.
Perhaps, like me, you see Victoria Day as a celebration of our British history, and the celebration of our current Monarch.
Or maybe you see it as just a long weekend to kick-off the summer season.
Whatever you do, whatever you call this holiday, just enjoy it.
But… that’s just my opinion.