Commonwealth Day

The 56 member countries of the Commonwealth, including Canada, celebrate Commonwealth Day every year on the second Monday in March.

History of Commonwealth Day in Canada

In 1973, the National Council in Canada of the Royal Commonwealth Society suggested in a letter to Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau that the idea of Commonwealth Day to be observed simultaneously throughout the Commonwealth be included on the agenda for the Heads of Government Meeting to be held in Ottawa that year. The proposal was not included in the agenda of that meeting but did appear as a Canadian item on the agenda of the 1975 meeting.

At that time, the heads of Government agreed that the Commonwealth Secretariat be asked to select a date for such an observance that would not have any untoward historical connotations. At the meeting of senior officials in Canberra in May 1976, the Canadian proposal that the second Monday in March be set as Commonwealth Day was adopted.

Until 1977, it was the practice in Canada to observe Commonwealth Day on an ad hoc basis in conjunction with Victoria Day (a statutory holiday), also by proclamation the day for the celebration of the Sovereign’s birthday.

Observance of Commonwealth Day

The celebration of Commonwealth Day entails no uniform manner of observance upon member countries, leaving it to each country to mark that day as it considers suitable. In Canada, the Royal Union flag, also known as the "Union Jack" is customarily flown.

Commonwealth Day is not a statutory holiday; rather it is a day of observance by more than 2 billion citizens of their common bonds and the contribution of the Commonwealth to the creation of a harmonious global environment.

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