The New Brunswick government has decided it will not make Sept. 30 a provincial statutory holiday in the province.
The federal government chose that date for a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation earlier this year, following the discovery of children’s remains at the sites of former residential schools in Kamloops, British Columbia, and other locations.
But the holiday only applies to federal public service employees.
In an emailed statement to Global News, Premier Blaine Higgs said the government is “committed to identifying ways to acknowledge September 30th as a day of recognition.”
“Our government encourages everyone to use this day as an opportunity to consider what each of us can do as individuals to advance reconciliation and help to create a better, more inclusive province,” Higgs’ statement read.
“While September 30th will be observed in New Brunswick, it will not be a Statutory Holiday.”
Tobique First Nation Chief Ross Perley said he’s disappointed, but not surprised by the decision. He said the province has missed an opportunity to improve its relationship with Indigenous people.
“It’s a common pattern of systemic racism and oppression towards Indigenous people in the province of New Brunswick by the Higgs government,” Perley said.
“All you’ve got to do is look back at the track record from the start. They’ve never done one positive thing in our communities to help Indigenous people.”
Non-practicing Mi’kmaw lawyer Jarvis Googoo, a former Indian day school student in Nova Scotia, said the Higgs government is avoiding any real action.
“It’s lip service,” Googoo stated. “We’re just going to say on paper, ‘We’re sorry that this happened, but we’re actually not going to make any meaningful effort to try and recognize and commemorate.'”
The New Brunswick Union represents nearly 11,000 workers in the province, many of them in the public sector.
President Susie Proulx-Daigle said the province needs a day to reflect with all Canadians.
“I feel that that’s a terrible decision,” Proulx-Daigle said. “And, of course, we have language in particular collective agreements that addresses this. And we’ll therefore be filing grievances.”
Alberta and Quebec have also said they will not create a provincial statutory holiday on Sept. 30.
A spokesperson for Nova Scotia’s new government said it has not made a decision.