By Bird Bouchard
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
In observance of National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, September 30th will now be a statutory holiday in Canada.
The new statutory holiday will be September 30th and will commemorate the tragic legacy of residential schools in Canada. It received royal assent after passing unanimously in the Senate.
Federally regulated workplaces will be closed in order to respect the new statutory holiday.
The establishment of the national holiday is in response to the 80th call to action in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action.
This date coincides with Orange Shirt Day, which began in 2013 and involved wearing orange shirts to honour Indigenous children forced to leave their families to attend residential schools.
“As you may be aware, the government recently passed legislation to make September 30th a federal statutory holiday called the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Like all Canadians, this day provides an opportunity for each public servant to recognize and commemorate the legacy of residential schools. This may present itself as a day of quiet reflection or participation in a community event,” reads a news release on the government of Canada’s website.
Stated in the calls to action report, the statutory holiday is designed “to honour Survivors, their families, and communities, and ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process.”
According to Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault, the objective is to create a chance for Canadians to learn about and reflect on a dark chapter in their country’s history. He added it is also a chance to commemorate the survivors, their families and their communities.
“We have taken steps to address the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Actions. However, we recognize that there is still much work to do as a country to make progress on our shared path of reconciliation. This includes acknowledging the harm residential schools have done to Indigenous Peoples. By establishing a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, we will have a day every year to reflect and honour the survivors of residential schools, ensuring they are never forgotten,” said Guilbeault.
This important announcement builds on the Budget 2019 announcement to provide $7 million over two years for communities across the country to commemorate the history and legacy of residential schools. In 2019-2020, the Government of Canada invested in six large national projects to educate and raise awareness about this dark chapter of Canadian history.
“A National Day for Truth and Reconciliation would provide federally regulated workers with the opportunity to participate in educational and commemorative activities. This will ensure that the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process,” said Filomena Tassi, Minister of Labour.
Bird Bouchard is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the THE RIDGETOWN INDEPENDENT NEWS . The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.