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politics

How to Get Your Own Official Day

Ever wonder how Toronto gets its official days, weeks, and months of recognition for people, causes, or events? Here's your answer.

Photo by HiMY SYeD from the Torontoist Flickr Pool

Mayor Rob Ford proclaims May 17, 2012, to be the Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia in Toronto. Photo by HiMY SYeD from the Torontoist Flickr Pool

We’ve got ourselves a lot of Days in this town. Well, officially proclaimed Days (and Weeks and Months) in recognition of some person, cause, or event. This month alone, the City of Toronto has issued proclamations observing Garden Day, Injured Workers’ Day, Canadian Magazine Week, Sickle Cell Awareness Day, Toronto Remembers D-Day Day, and more. And the month of June itself has been declared, among other things, Italian Heritage Month, Recreation and Parks Month, and Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus Awareness Month.

So where do all these proclamations come from, and how can you get your cause recognized with one?

Proclamations are the responsibility of Protocol Services in the City Clerk’s Office—these are the same people who issue Keys to the City and determine when flags should be raised or flown at half-mast. Staff there sift through dozens of requests for proclamations, deciding which ones merit an official decree. To have your cause considered, you must fill out a special online form at least six weeks before the hoped-for date of your prospective proclamation.

And before you go to all that trouble, you’d better think good and hard about whether your cause fits the City’s proclamation guidelines. Like, seriously—they are not screwing around. Twenty of the 149 requests filed last year were rejected for not meeting the City’s criteria.

Applicant organizations are allowed to request one proclamation per year. City proclamations will not be issued for “matters of political controversy, ideological or religious beliefs, or individual conviction,” or anything “contrary to City policies.” And proclamations are one-time things—you won’t be granted a certain day in perpetuity, but for that year only.

Once a proclamation request is accepted, notice will be posted online in an archive of past and near-future proclamations. “To the best of our ability, proclamations are posted on the web a week in advance of the date,” said protocol services manager Maryse Boucher.

To peruse the heap of old proclamations is to get a sense of Toronto’s values and the people and causes we hold in highest regard, from the deserving (Safe Boating Awareness Week), to the very deserving (Johnny Bower Day, damnit), to the frothy (Royal Week), and the potentially life-altering (Down Syndrome Awareness Week, Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia).

This is a city of beloved heroes, passionate convictions, frivolous tastes, and cherished idiosyncrasies, many of which are publicly proclaimed through its official Days, Weeks, and Months.

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