Commonwealth Day

Commonwealth Day – March 9th 2020

Commonwealth Day take place each year on the second Monday of March. Celebrations offer an opportunity to promote understanding on global issues, international co-operation and the work of Commonwealth organizations, which aim to improve the lives of citizens.

First celebrated as Empire Day in May 1898 in Dundas, Ontario, Commonwealth Day was the creation of Canadian author Clementina Trenholme. Empire Day was celebrated at various times of year throughout the then Empire and Commonwealth. It gained its current name in 1958.

Brian Graves (1925-2014),
former chair of the Royal Commonwealth Society of Canada

In 1973, Brian Graves wrote to Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau on behalf of RCS Canada, proposing that Commonwealth Day be observed on the same day throughout the Commonwealth. The proposal was raised at the Third Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, held in Kingston, Jamaica, in 1975. Canada’s proposal of the second Monday in March was agreed to by a meeting of Commonwealth officials the following year in Canberra, Australia. The day was chosen in particular as it would not clash with other national holidays and would be a day on which most Commonwealth schoolchildren would be in class.

In Canada, the Royal Union Flag is flown at federal government buildings and establishments from dawn to dusk to commemorate the occasion. Commonwealth Day ceremonies and interfaith services are also held by Royal Commonwealth Society branches from coast to coast and offer the unique opportunity to celebrate the unique diversity of the cultures and peoples of the Commonwealth.

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