Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday August 16, 2018
Ottawa to declare federal holiday to mark legacy of residential school system
The Liberal government will declare a federal statutory holiday to mark the tragic legacy of the residential school system, fulfilling a recommendation made by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).
In a statement, a spokesperson for Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez said the department is working with Indigenous peoples to determine the best date for this sort of commemoration.
“We have committed to fulfilling all of the calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. 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 Simon Ross, the minister’s press secretary.
“That’s exactly what we will do, and we will do that in partnership with Indigenous Peoples.”
Two days are currently under consideration: June 21, which is National Indigenous Peoples Day, and September 30, which is named “Orange Shirt Day.” It is named for the bright orange shirt given to six-year-old Phyllis Webstad by her grandmother in 1973; it was taken from her by administrators when she attended the St. Joseph Mission School in Williams Lake, B.C. The date was chosen because it’s around the time Indigenous children were taken from their homes and sent to residential schools.
It’s not yet clear when the new federal statutory holiday will be implemented, but the official said conversations with Indigenous peoples are well underway.
Constitutionally, it’s up to the provinces and territories to determine which statutory holidays exist in their jurisdictions.
Nothing in any federal legislation would force them to follow suit and implement a day to mark the horrors of the residential school system.
So a new federal holiday would apply only to workers in federally regulated industries — like the federal public service, banks, interprovincial and international transportation companies, TV/radio, telecommunications, fisheries and Crown corporations, among others — unless the provinces took action on their own. (Source: CBC)