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April 30, 2004
Additional culturally significant days to be recognized in City meeting schedule
At its meeting yesterday, members of Toronto City Council's Administration
Committee adopted a recommendation to expand its recognition of culturally
significant days when Council and its key committees do not meet.

"The new schedule better reflects the cultural diversity of Toronto," said
Councillor Michael Walker, Chair of the Administration Committee. "Previously,
City Council and committees may have met from time to time on days where entire
communities of large segments of our population are off work or school for
religious observance. We're talking of approximately 100,000 residents."

Recognition of additional culturally significant days was requested by
Councillor Michael Thompson, Scarborough Centre, Ward 37.

In his request, Councillor Thompson noted that two of the most holy days of
observance for Muslims, Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr, had been missing from the
schedule. These have now been added, along with: National Aboriginal Day;
Mawlid al-Nabiy, the Muslim festival commemorating the birth of the Prophet
Muhammad; Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights; and Kwanzaa, the annual
celebration of African heritage. In addition, the reference to Chinese New Year
has been replaced with Lunar New Year, which is celebrated by Chinese,
Vietnamese, Koreans and others as the New Year day.

Councillor Thompson thanked Administration Committee members for their quick
adoption of the recommended changes, which go to Council in May for final
approval. "The City's motto is 'Diversity is our Strength' and this helps us
live up to this commitment," he said.

The added dates were decided on in consultation with the City's Human Rights
Office, the diversity management unit in the Chief Administrator's Office, City
staff, and a review of statistical information about Toronto's population.

The City schedule of meetings already recognized Eastern Orthodox Christmas,
Passover, Good Friday, Holy Friday, Easter (Western and Orthodox), Rosh
Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Christmas. Some of these dates, along with the new
dates, vary from year to year, while others have set dates.

The addition to the culturally significant dates has not resulted in having to
reschedule any currently-set meetings. City departments, agencies, boards and
commissions will also be requested to respect these dates.

The dates have been added to the annual schedule of meetings, which is
available on the City's Web site at

Background documents

· Report from the City Clerk to Administration Committee, dated April 7, 2004,
including the list of culturally significant days for inclusion in City
Council's annual schedule of meetings,
· Statistical information from the 2001 Census.

Media contact:
Councillor Michael Walker, 416- 392-7906



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