This Monday we will celebrate New Brunswick Day here. This is a relatively new holiday, having been adopted by the Legislative Assembly in 1976 as a provincial holiday, marked on the first Monday of August. Little more than an extra long weekend, in 1989 the Department of Tourism, Recreation and Heritage was charged with organizing the day into something more special. In 1990 the first expanded program which includes Merit Awards and themed events took place. Each year the weekend is hosted by a different town. This year Richibucto has the honor. The theme this year is "Pride in our Youth". This fits perfectly with the holiday's overall theme of the pride we feel in being New Brunswickers.
What many people enjoy the most about this weekend is the awarding of the Merit Awards. These awards are presented to people in many communities who have been nominated by local residents for having made extraordinary contributions to their community through volunteerism in any number of forms. The winners reflect the energy of the people of the province and help to make New Brunswick the wonderful province in which we have chosen to make our home. The number of awards varies from year to year within each community, and usually is a handful or fewer.
This year, in addition to the Merit Awards, there is a writing and drawing contest for the youth with the winner receiving a trip for their family within the province. This sort of contest is a welcome adjunct to the many athletic events which are far more prevalent during the summer months. Many students enjoy the mental stimulation of writing and drawing throughout the year. This wonderful idea appears to have stemmed from Business New Brunswick, as it was announced by Minister Victor Boudreau. This is just the sort of opportunity tomorrow's leaders need and will likely embrace. It offers a chance for today's youth to express themselves, to share their ideas and to hone their communication skills. Thus, this contest serves as the seed which germinates into tomorrow's leadership.
Learning how write creatively and to draw in nature are ways which enable to many of us to express ourselves in healthy ways. These avenues of expression are like threads in a fabric which are important to the whole. Without them something important would be missing. The fact that government is encouraging this dynamic is something we can all be grateful for. Such initiatives cross the desks of many legislative departments and it these sorts of interdependencies which, when appropriately carried on outside of the political arena, indicate that there is identifiable respect by the government for the people.
It was stated recently that New Brunswick is a small enough province that we ought to be able to do things right. And New Brunswick Day is a time when the people who are carrying the torch of doing things right as volunteers, are honored. Acknowledging such people, who come from every corner of the province and from every walk of life, who are not captains of industry or even highly visible, but who work tirelessly behind the scenes to make the lives of all New Brunswickers better, these are the people for whom this holiday is now celebrated. Recognizing people in this way is a form of respect which builds a strong foundation for the future of the province and validates the efforts which people go to to build a stronger and healthier society. This is in fact etiquette in action. As we practice praising one another, nominating excellence and feeling the appreciation that goes along with this, we are building a stronger New Brunswick, community by community.
I love holidays in general and especially those which give us the opportunity to put into practice the very underpinnings of a good life, namely, respect for each other and for ourselves; focusing our intentions on the positive events in our lives; and showing compassion for others as we share our time with them through the many volunteer organizations for which we work.
Happy New Brunswick Day everyone. Although this is a relatively new holiday, it may be one of our most important!