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Randy Burt of Stephenville would like to see Discovery Day holiday done away with and replaced with Heritage Day.
Randy Burt of Stephenville would like to see Discovery Day holiday done away with and replaced with Heritage Day. - Contributed

Randy Burt has joined in on the debate for ditching the Discovery Day name with a suggestion that it be changed to Heritage Day.

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'Do away with Discovery Day, St. John's city councillor says'

He said this province has always been known for being rich in diverse cultures, so having a holiday that expresses that would be more inclusive for all of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Burt said he is on the same page as Maggie Burton, the St. John’s city councillor who has said Discovery Day ignores the existence of the province’s Indigenous people.

“Cabot Day, as it was once called, or Discovery Day as it is currently called, didn’t really occur because John Cabot didn’t discover anything. Newfoundland was discovered thousands of years before he arrived on its shores,” he said. “We don’t need a day that marks discovering nothing.”

At a St. Johns city council meeting this summer, Burton introduced a notice of motion to call on the provincial government to find a more “appropriate” name, and asked the city refer to the holiday as St. John’s Day in the meantime.

Burt said he doesn’t fussy the adoption by the St. John’s city council for St. John's Day until a better name can be found as he’s not sure a municipal government has the right to change the name of a provincial holiday.

He said his proposal for a name change for Discovery Day is not just for St. John’s but indeed for the entire province.

“The main issue with the name Discovery Day is that it not inclusive to all cultures in Newfoundland and Labrador so I propose the name be changed province wide to Heritage Day,” he said in his letter.

Burt believes this is what people of the province should all be focusing on each year on this holiday. He believes the name Heritage Day represents this diverse culture.

He also believes this holiday should not be for provincial government employees only but for all businesses in the province.

While he hasn’t heard anything back from the premier yet, or MHAs John Finn for Stephenville – Port au Port District or Scott Reid for Humber – St. George’s District that he copied the letter to, he’s hoping his idea will get some government attention.

He said he put it forward now since the holiday is towards the last of June and if fast-tracked it could the new holiday be in place in the early summer of 2019.

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