August Civic Holiday

Looking back on childhood, the summer seemed to be endless six weeks of freedom when we were allowed to do whatever we wanted. As an adult, the long weekends are the only days of the summer that gave us the taste of the same freedom we once had when we were kids. This recent long weekend of August was one of the last opportunities for young adults, families, and college students to trade in city life for the wilderness, camping, and all night long bonfires filled with traditional s’mores, storytelling, and laughter that echoed in hundred miles of the forest.

Traditionally, the August long weekend is known as the Civic Holiday. What is Civic Holiday? It’s the most used name for a public holiday on the first Monday of August, and it is one of the most celebrated holidays in Canada. But the local municipalities are allowed to rename the holiday to whatever they want it to be. For instance, in a town named Sault Ste. Marie in Ontario, the Civic Holiday is known as Sir William H. Hearst Day. In Ottawa, it’s known as Colonel By Day and there are many more. Out of all Civic Holidays renamed after non-Indigenous figures, the only one is named after an Indigenous figure is Thayendanegea or Joseph Brant for short who was a Mohawk military and a political leader. Joseph Brant Day is widely celebrated in Burlington just on the west end of the Greater Toronto Area in Ontario.

Last year, the city of North Bay in Ontario which is located on the traditional territory of the Nipissing First Nations has decided to make a suggestion renaming the August first Monday holiday in honour of the Nipissing First Nations and to highlight their relationship with Nipissing First Nations people. The proposed name of the holiday is Zoongaabwidaa Giizhgad Day which means Standing Strong Together Day. That name was actually suggested by the community of Nipissing First Nations and that signifies their actual involvement with the city of North Bay.

The permission to rename the holiday already has been approved by the provincial legislation on a municipal level. Unfortunately, the approval has not been given by the Council and the holiday itself will remain a Civic Holiday in the city of North Bay for now. However, this does not end here because it provides a great example for other cities to consider acknowledging which First Nations territory they’re on and what can be the first stepping stone in order to reconcile their relationship with the Indigenous Peoples and embrace their large, rich culture in the country.

Sources: > Civic Holiday to be renamed in North Bay
My North Bay Now > Civic Holiday Name Change?