GLEN ROCK, NJ - The Borough Council discussed changing Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples' Day on the 2020 borough calendar at last night's work session.
On April 24, Mayor Bruce Packer said the idea was prompted by suggestions in emails the borough had received. "No one except Newark has done it," he said.
According to Wikipedia, "Indigenous Peoples' Day is a holiday that celebrates and honors the Indigenous peoples of America and commemorates their shared history and culture. It is celebrated across the United States on the second Monday in October, and is an official city and state holiday in various localities."
It's scheduled to fall on Monday, October 14 this year, and it is meant as a day in honor of Native Indigenous Americans on Columbus Day.
"I think it's a great idea," councilwoman Arati Kreibich said. "It's a very inclusive message to send."
Councilman Bill Leonard said the emails were very similar, referring to them as "cut and paste," indicating they may have been part of an organized campaign. "I don't think we should do that, it's like judging people for what they did 500 years ago.
Councilwoman Amy Martin said she was for it. "I have no serious convictions about it. I'm not a big holiday person, but I understand the basis for it. I think we should honor our history and be honest about it. We should change the calendar and own it."
Councilwoman Mary Barchetto said while she doesn't support attrocities, there are people who celebrate the holiday and they would be disappointed.
"I want to be sensitive to Italian Americans," council president Kristine Morieko said. "I'd rather put it back out to more residents. I wouldn't rush on it. I don't feel confident changing it just yet. I want to do what's best for everyone."
Councilman Mike O'Hagan was absent.
On April 25, Mayor Packer sent out a press release confirming the decision to put the matter on hold and continue at a future work session.
“For the second year in a row, we received several requests from residents to consider changing the name of Columbus Day, on our Borough Calendar, to Indigenous Peoples’ Day," he said. "With seven states and a growing number of cities, including Newark, NJ, enforcing the change, I thought it was important that we respect the wishes of our residents to have this discussion. While the council did not make any conclusive decisions, I am proud of the respectful debate that took place at our worksession despite differing views on how we should move forward and why. The discussion will continue at a future worksession. While I would personally support the change to our calendar, as a mayor, I believe it is crucial that we, as elected officials, carefully balance our personal views with the prevailing will of our residents. With that in mind, we continue to encourage residents to reach out with their opinions on the matter.”