The City of Lethbridge announced Monday that it will be recognizing National Day of Truth and Reconciliation as a statutory holiday.
The federal statutory holiday was announced in June. It’s a day meant to give public servants an opportunity to recognize the legacy of residential schools. It also addresses one of the 94 calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
The government of Alberta has left the implementation of a statutory holiday up to individual employers for provincially-regulated industries.
“We take truth and reconciliation seriously,” said Lethbridge Mayor Chris Spearman. “And we’re going to take this day to reflect.”
City facilities will be closed on Sept. 30. He is encouraging city staff to attend any local events and take time to reflect.
“When the federal government declares this day, we need to move forward and take it seriously.”
National Day of Truth and Reconciliation is also known as Orange Shirt Day — a day to remember the experiences of thousands of Indigenous children who were taken from their homes and sent to residential schools. According to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, more than 150,000 Indigenous children were placed in residential schools.
“This sends a strong signal to the community that the City of Lethbridge honors its relationship with Indigenous peoples and is committed to advancing truth and reconciliation,” said Indigenous relations advisor for the City of Lethbridge Perry Stein.
“I would ask them to think about the community they live in, how many residential schools operated here and how many people that it actually still effects today,” said Amanda Scout, a member of the Reconciliation Lethbridge Advisory Committee.
National Day of Truth and Reconciliation falls right after Lethbridge’s 5th annual Reconciliation Week, Sept. 20-24. City hall will be lit up in the reconciliation colors for that week, orange on Sept. 30, and red on Oct. 4 for Sisters in Spirit Day.
“This isn’t about trying to demonstrate to anybody else what our commitment is,” said Stein. “This is about us showing up in a space that’s important to us.”