While the provincial government in New Brunswick says it won’t make National Truth and Reconciliation a statutory holiday, some municipalities are marking the day as statutory anyway.
In June, the federal government moved to mark the day after the remains of Indigenous children were discovered on the sites of former residential schools in the country.
The designated paid holiday for federal employees also addresses one of the 94 calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission: “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.”
New Brunswick was among several provinces choosing not to recognize a new statutory holiday.
The City of Moncton, however, unanimously voted in favour of making Sept. 30 a statutory holiday for non-essential services.
Marc Landry said it was clear to them that this was the right decision for the municipality.
“For sure, we really wanted to take this opportunity to partner with our First Nation communities, and we’re working on different options on how best to do that and to recognize this important day,” he said in an interview Wednesday.
Saint John announced late Wednesday it would also make the day a statutory holiday for employees and staff outside of essential services.
Quispamsis addressed the day in its council meeting on Tuesday, and while it was not making it a statutory holiday, it would hold a ceremony to mark the day.
St. Mary’s First Nation Chief Allan Polchies said in a Facebook video on Sept. 2 it is clear that the government has no intention of doing justice by Indigenous people.
“This was demonstrated by the downplaying of the impact of residential schools on Indigenous people through a refusal to recognize Sept. 30 as a day of truth and reconciliation,” he said in the video.
Alberta, Saskatchewan and P.E.I. have all decided against making Sept. 30 a statutory holiday as well, while Ontario has yet to announce its position.
Premier Blaine Higgs was not available for an interview on Wednesday, but in an email statement, he said his government is working to recognize the day.
“We are committed to identifying ways to acknowledge September 30th as a day of recognition,” his statement reads. “While September 30th will be observed in New Brunswick, it will not be a statutory holiday.”