My friend and former Halifax Daily News colleague David Rodenhiser, who has met more than his share of worthy Nova Scotians, both celebrated and unsung, has been thinking about the nameless February holiday:
Our February holiday should recognize the everyday Nova Scotians who make this a great place to live.
I’m talking about the community volunteers, small business owners, and all-around interesting people who give Nova Scotia character. These are the people we all know in our communities, but they’re not the ones who get celebrated with regular media coverage, the Order of Nova Scotia, or the Order of Canada. (Order recipients would be specifically excluded.)
We can all appreciate the contributions people like Joe Shannon and Mel Boutilier have made to Nova Scotia. But there are countless other Nova Scotians whose work, and good works, contribute to our quality of life, but who receive little recognition or celebration. Our February holiday should honour them.
Here’s how it would work:
- Nova Scotians would send in nominations for a living Nova Scotian deserving of recognition, explaining their contribution to the life of our communities;
- A diverse committee of ordinary Nova Scotians, appointed by cabinet, would review the nominations and prepare a shortlist of, say, 10;
- The Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia would select the honouree from the short list, announcing that the upcoming February holiday will be “[Recipient’s Name] Day”;
- In subsequent years, the process would be repeated, but with the incumbent making the final selection, not the Lieutenant Governor (unless the incumbent is unable].
Thus, each year we’d celebrate someone new, with the attendant media coverage of their contribution, be it cultural, non-profit, entrepreneurial, or whatever. It would build awareness of the great things people are doing in our province, and perhaps encourage others to do a little more. The announcement of each subsequent year’s honouree would be done in the fall, so that it captures two media cycles: announcement day, and the holiday.
Maybe one year it’s Gloria Fisher Day, and the next year Susanna Fuller Day, followed by Zoe Lucas Day, succeeded by Frankie MacDonald Day, and then Ed Matwawana Day, and so on, and so on.
This feels more meaningful to me than Joe Howe Day. His day happened more than a century ago. Let’s, instead, embrace the present and inspire the future.