By Tina Comeau
As a young girl growing up on Cape Sable Island, Phoebe Malone would watch her dad go fishing and would always pray for his safe return. Now as a young woman living in Argyle, she makes the same prayers when her partner goes fishing.
But recently on a day that many other provinces in the country recognized as Family Day – this being Feb. 18, which in some provinces is a holiday – people in southwestern Nova Scotia were praying for the safe return of five young fishermen who were aboard the ill-fated Miss Ally.
That got Malone once again thinking that there really should be a day set aside in Nova Scotia to honour fishermen and mariners.
“On that day this year many Nova Scotians followed the news and spent the day praying for the return of the five fishermen, so while thinking about that and praying myself, I thought of how many Nova Scotian families are fishing families, or have some sort of connection to the fishing industry,” she says. “It just seems appropriate and fitting to me that Nova Scotia have a day similar to Family Day, but to honor all the men and women who work on the sea.”
Malone will be circulating a petition that she hopes to get at least 1,000 signatures on, and she has set up a Facebook page called Fishermen’s Day in Nova Scotia. Just a little over a week after the page has been started it had surpassed 6,000 likes on Facebook.
“After creating the page I found that some others had similar ideas as well, and I've had many offers to help and get involved so that is great,” says Malone. “A 16-year-old girl in Truro, who was originally from Yarmouth, contacted me the first day and has been a great help. She has written letters to her local paper, as well as contacted politicians to try and help. Her help and drive to get this going is amazing as well.”
Malone hopes others in the public will join the push for this day as well.
The possibility of a February holiday is something MLA Diana Whalen of the Liberal caucus has been pushing for, similar to the Family Days held elsewhere.
Malone doesn’t see what she is proposing as needing to be a holiday.
“Since it's for fishermen I'm not sure I expect it to actually be a day off because I know fishermen and their determination would be not to be held back at the wharf if it was nice weather,” she says. “But it would be nice if it could be recognized enough to be marked on calendars and celebrated.”
Malone says ideally she’d like to see the provincial government make a fishermen/mariners day official to support and recognize all the hard work and dangers that these people face in their jobs.
“It would be great if we could get local churches or community centres to host services in each community to honor the mariners they have already lost and to show support for the ones still here risking their lives to make a living, as well as their families,” she says.
As she continues to get the word out about this idea, Malone is very happy with the response she’s had so far.
“It seems this is something that many Nova Scotians agree on and want to see happen and that to me is wonderful,” she says. “All the fishermen and mariners across Nova Scotia deserve this.”