Happy Family Day!

Stanislav & Irina Olkinitskiy and children Katerina, Dmitry, Maria and Kristina at the Acadian Forest restoration project in Baie Verte, NB (Photo by NCC)

Stanislav & Irina Olkinitskiy and children Katerina, Dmitry, Maria and Kristina at the Acadian Forest restoration project in Baie Verte, NB (Photo by NCC)

February 17, 2014 | by Carly Digweed

Prior to 2007, when there wasn't an actual day devoted to family time for Canadians and there were less online distractions and demands on your social life, spending down time with those closest to you was almost a given, or at least a bit easier. And for me, a lot of that family time was spent outdoors. Whether it was meeting my cousins at the closest park, convening with other families for our annual village camping trip or hosting toboggan and hot chocolate days at our home, the focus was quite literally using our backyard as our playgrounds.

So, in the spirit of this year’s day for the family, I asked a few of my Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) colleagues what a typical family day was for them before we were awarded a Monday free, and how it has shaped their family time now.

Rebecca Hull, NCC’s communications manager for the Ontario region, remembers her family time growing up as an outdoor affair: “When I was younger, our family time focused on getting fresh air, getting outside,” she recalls. “That upbringing has definitely influenced how we plan our time together now.”

Hull admits she's aware of how times have changed: “Things aren’t quite the same as when I was a kid; it’s not as much of a carefree, 'we’ll all come in when the lights turn on' attitude,” she says. “So we really make an effort to spend our time together outdoors whenever possible.”

Rebecca notes that in the past she and her husband have taken their daughters on hikes along local trails, participated in family ski trips, and even taken part in community Family Day events. “We do our best to make the most of the day off together. Outdoor activities, for me, have always been a great way to do so.”

Phillipe Murphy-Rheaume, NCC’s government relations coordinator says that his fondest family memories are the days he spent exploring his nearby ravine with his brother and sister in a small eastern Ottawa community. “It’s much harder nowadays, living so far from my siblings and parents, to capture those moments that I didn’t think twice about as a kid, but definitely miss now.”

Although Phillipe won’t be with his family on Family Day, he says the memories of sledding and building snow forts with his family on snowy days, will keep him the warm throughout the winter.

Bronwyn Daigle, one of NCC’s most coveted executive assistants, remembers her family times as often unplanned and spontaneous: “We never had days set aside for spending time together. That time just came about organically,” she says. “My dad would surprise us every now and again, cooking us special meals and snacks, which to me, embodies that togetherness and family fun behind Family Day.”

Although her family time was and remains to be ever present within her household, Bronwyn says having a day to highlight the importance of family is something she can get behind. “I can absolutely appreciate Family Day and what it stands for, but showing your love and appreciation for one another should be continuous, year-round.”

With many Canadians enjoying a day away from school or work for Family Day, NCC is encouraging its supporters to take advantage of the day by getting outdoors and enjoying nature with family and friends.

And for those of you without a day off, why not celebrate on another day? Or every day for that matter!

Plans or no plans, tell us how you’ve celebrated family time in the past in the comments section below. And if you’re looking for new places to explore with your friends and family, find out what NCC properties you can visit.

Enjoy the day!

Carly Digweed (Photo courtesy of Carly Digweed)

About the Author

Carly Digweed was NCC's digital marketing coordinator.

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