Liberals look at creating federal holiday to mark legacy of residential schools

AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde said day to recognize painful legacy would boost understanding

Liberals look at creating federal holiday to mark legacy of residential schools

The federal Liberal government wants to establish a holiday to acknowledge the dark legacy of Canada’s residential school system, and plans to use an opposition bill to make it happen.

The government has been consulting with Indigenous organizations about creating a holiday to honour survivors and raise awareness about the church-run, government-backed schools — one of the 94 recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

One government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, says Indigenous leaders still haven’t settled on whether the day should be a full-blown statutory holiday or a day of tribute that would offer some form of symbolic recognition.

The Liberals plan to move the behind-the-scenes discussion into a parliamentary forum, allowing Indigenous groups, leaders and residential school survivors to debate the idea with parliamentarians.

The government intends to back a private member’s bill introduced by NDP MP Georgina Jolibois that currently proposes establishing a statutory holiday on June 21, which is National Indigenous Peoples Day.

A spokesman for Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez says the government has committed to fulfilling the TRC’s calls to action, and plans to do just that.

“Call to Action 80 asks the government of Canada to establish a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to honour the survivors of residential schools,” said spokesman Simon Ross.

“That’s exactly what we will do, and we will do that in partnership with Indigenous Peoples.”

The Assembly of First Nations did not immediately respond to a query today.

On Twitter, AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde said a day to “recognize the painful legacy of residential schools” would boost “public understanding of our shared history and build a better country for all of us.”

The government-funded, church-run residential schools operated for more than a century. Indigenous children were ripped away from their families, usually starting in late September, and sent to schools where they endured widespread sexual, emotional and physical abuse.

The previous Conservative government issued a formal apology in 2008.

If Parliament did approve a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation as a statutory holiday, it would only apply to federally regulated workplaces — the civil service, marine ports, airports, airlines and telecommunications companies.

Provinces and territories would have to amend their existing labour codes to establish any additional day off.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Pellet plants deal with a lot of combustible materials. (File photo)
“Fire-related event” at Houston pellet plant injures three, shuts down operations

Rumours of an associated explosion cannot be confirmed at this time

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared last Thursday (Nov. 19). (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
41 positive COVID-19 cases associated with the LNG Canada site outbreak

Thirty-four of the 41 cases remain active, according to Northern Health

Snowplowing isn’t really our favourite pastime but it is something we have been doing a lot of lately. Winter is here folks get your shovels out! (Angelique Houlihan photo/Houston Today)
Canadian’s favourite pastime

Snowplowing isn’t really our favourite pastime but it is something we have… Continue reading

grad
Raising money

Recently 2021 grad and parents sorted through all the bottles they have… Continue reading

(Dave Landine/Facebook)
VIDEO: Dashcam captures head-on crash between snowplow and truck on northern B.C. highway

Driver posted to social media that he walked away largely unscathed

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Top doctor urges Canadians to limit gatherings as ‘deeply concerning’ outbreaks continue

Canada’s active cases currently stand at 63,835, compared to 53,907 a week prior

A Canadian Pacific freight train travels around Morant’s Curve near Lake Louise, Alta., on Monday, Dec. 1, 2014. A study looking at 646 wildlife deaths along the railway tracks in Banff and Yoho national parks in Alberta and British Columbia has found that train speed is one of the biggest factors. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Study finds train speed a top factor in wildlife deaths in Banff, Yoho national parks

Research concludes effective mitigation could address train speed and ability of wildlife to see trains

A airport worker is pictured at Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C. Wednesday, March 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canada extends COVID restrictions for non-U.S. travellers until Jan. 21 amid second wave

This ban is separate from the one restricting non-essential U.S. travel

Menno Place. (Google Street View image.)
B.C. care home looks to hire residents’ family members amid COVID-19-related staff shortage

Family would get paid as temporary workers, while having chance to see loved ones while wearing PPE

A man walks by a COVID-19 test pod at the Vancouver airport in this undated handout photo. A study has launched to investigate the safest and most efficient way to rapidly test for COVID-19 in people taking off from the Vancouver airport. The airport authority says the study that got underway Friday at WestJet’s domestic check-in area is the first of its kind in Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Vancouver Airport Authority *MANDATORY CREDIT*
COVID-19 rapid test study launches at Vancouver airport for departing passengers

Airport authority says that a positive rapid test result does not constitute a medical diagnosis for COVID-19

114 Canadians were appointed Nov. 27 to the Order of Canada. (Governor General of Canada photo)
Indigenous actor, author, elder, leaders appointed to Order of Canada

Outstanding achievement, community dedication and service recognized

More than 60 cm of snow has fallen at Ulkatcho First Nation near Anahim Lake in the Chilcotin since a snowfall warning went into effect Thursday, Nov. 26. (Graham West photo)
VIDEO: More than 60 cm of snowfall in Chilcotin since Thursday, Nov. 26

Graham West of Ulkatcho First Nation captures the scene on video

Most Read