At Grand Pré, vast fields on the valley floor give way to the North Mountain and Blomidon beyond.
At Grand Pré, vast fields on the valley floor give way to the North Mountain and Blomidon beyond.

Monday’s holiday is Nova Scotia Heritage Day, not Family Day

Heritage Day 2022 honours the Landscape of Grand Pré and gives provincial workers and many retailers a day off.

Nova Scotia Heritage Day became a thing in 2015 with the push for a February holiday. Across Canada, eight provinces now have a February holiday, all but Newfoundland and Quebec. Most of those provinces—Alberta, BC, NB, Ontario and Saskatchewan—call it Family Day, while PEI has Islander Day and Manitoba has Louis Riel Day. But in Nova Scotia on the third Monday in February, our Heritage Day day off pays tribute to a different honouree each year.

Between people and places, Nova Scotia has celebrated a wide range of its history on Heritage Day. The first year was Viola Desmond, followed by Joseph Howe in 2016, Mi’kmaq people in 2017, Mona Louise Parsons in 2018, Maud Lewis in 2019, Africville in 2020, and Edward Francis Arab last year.

The 2022 official honouree is The Landscape of Grand Pré World Heritage Site. But really, the story told by the land is that of the people who founded the Acadian settlement of Grand Pré and lived there up until the expulsion of the Acadians in 1755. Another reason to honour the area now is that 2022 marks the tenth anniversary of Grand Pré becoming an official UNESCO world heritage site.

It’s estimated that at the time of the expulsion over 14,000 people were living in the area that’s now Grand Pré, Wolfville and Hortonville. A 2019 Heritage Moment narrated by an Acadian woman says, “we lived here happily for generations, until the British decided they wanted our land.” During the expulsion, which lasted from 1755 to 1764, over 11,500 were deported to the American South or back to Europe. It’s estimated that more than 5,000 of them died of disease, starvation or shipwrecks.

Today, the landscape around Grand Pré still stands out with its rich, fertile fields, rolling dykelands and the highest tides in the world. Learn more about Grand Pré on the province’s Heritage Day website.

In terms of what's open and what's closed on the holiday itself, Monday is a statutory provincial holiday, meaning that employees who qualify for the holiday will get a day off with pay. To qualify, you have to “be entitled to receive pay for at least 15 out of the most recent 30 calendar days” and work your first scheduled shift on either side of the holiday. According to the NS government website, if someone works on February 21, they’ll get holiday pay, plus extra pay for the time actually worked on the holiday, or they’ll get regular pay for the day plus another day off with pay.

Because it’s provincial, Heritage Day doesn’t apply to federal government employees or federally regulated businesses like airlines and railways. Post offices will be open, but most banks seem to be closed, even though they are federally regulated. Unionized jobs may also have different specific arrangements. Businesses that have to close on days like Christmas will be closed on Monday, but places like gas stations, restaurants, convenience stores and drug stores are allowed to remain open.

About The Author

Victoria Walton

Victoria has been a full-time reporter with The Coast since April 2020, covering everything from COVID-19 to small business to politics and social justice. Originally from the Annapolis Valley, she graduated from the University of King’s College School of Journalism in 2017.

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