Monday, 1 October 2018

October is Family History Month

While Family History Month is no an event that is Nationally recognized (see Legal Genealogist, Judy Russell's post it does allow us to focus our thoughts and celebrations on our ancestors during the month of October. 

Family History month in Ontario coincides with Foster Family Recognition week. Which is all that is left of what used to be Family Awareness month. In the late 1980s, all of the 1990s and most of the first decade of the millennium, October was a month to celebrate families. Attractions offered special events, cities proclaimed the recognition for family awareness and many of their recreation departments offered events for families to attend together. The OACAS (Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies) declared a Foster Parent Recognition week during October to celebrate the special role that these families have in the raising of the province's children. That then evolved into Child Abuse Awareness Month.

Then along came Dalton McGuinty, Premiere of Ontario from 2003-2013. A number of groups were lobbying for a statutory holiday between Christmas and Easter, to break up the long, cold hibernation of Ontario winters. McGuinty caved in 2008 and in doing so, called the day "Family Day" That then stopped Family Awareness Week in October. The new stat holiday was set aside as a day for families to spend time together. Snow-tubing, skiing, or simply shovelling. 
While the focus on time spent as a family shifted from a full week in October to a single day in February, that hasn't stopped any of us from focusing on families or family history at other times during the year. 

In North America most family history/genealogy societies to continue to focus on family history during the month of October - after the relaxation and time spent with family in the summer, and before the rush of the Christmas season.
I will continue to do the same. 

In October in Canada, we have the added focus on Thanksgiving, a day in which families often come together. Time spent at fall fairs, visiting apple orchards and pumpkin patches or gathered around the dinner table. Unlike the US Thanksgiving, our holiday was created to celebrate and be thankful for the harvest. Not on the arrival of pilgrims. And since most Scots descend from farmers, this is also a fitting time for Canadians of Scots descent to celebrate and give thanks for their Scottish ancestor(s) grasping the opportunity to enjoy a better life in a new land. 

What about you? How are you honouring and celebrating your family - past and present - this month?

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