This year, for the first time, September 30th will be observed as a statutory holiday and will commemorate the tragic legacy of residential schools in Canada. It received royal assent after passing unanimously in the Senate.
This date coincides with Orange Shirt Day, which began in 2013 and involved wearing orange shirts to honor 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.
What is the name of the holiday?
The new statutory holiday is called the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. It is meant to be a day for Canadians to spread awareness and reflect on the tragedies experienced by Indigenous people as a result of the country’s former residential school system.
When was the holiday created?
The federal government passed Bill C-5 in June, to allow for the creation of this holiday.
The holiday is in line with one of the 94 calls to action of The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which states: “We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, to establish, as a statutory holiday, a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation 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.”
How is National Day for Truth and Reconciliation meant to be observed?
As this is a day of awareness and commemoration, the day “may present itself as a day of quiet reflection or participation in a community event,” according to the Canadian government.
Who gets the day off?
September 30th is a statutory holiday and will operate the same way as other statutory holidays in the country: a paid day off for those who work in federally regulated jobs. Federal offices, as well as banks, will be closed on this day.
The residential schools crisis line is available 24 hours a day for anyone experiencing pain or distress as a result of a residential school experience. Support is available at 1-866-925-4419.
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