AUPE files formal grievance against province over National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

FILE: A ceremonial cloth with the names of 2,800 children who died in residential schools and were identified in the National Student Memorial Register, is carried to the stage during the Honouring National Day for Truth and Reconciliation ceremony in Gatineau, Quebec on Monday, Sept. 30, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Alberta’s biggest union has filed a formal policy grievance against the province over a new national holiday.

In June, Ottawa declared Sept. 30 a federal statutory holiday that is meant to give public servants an opportunity to recognize the legacy of residential schools.

Read more: Alberta leaves National Day for Truth and Reconciliation stat holiday up to employers

But in August, the government of Alberta announced it would not formally recognize the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, putting the onus on individual employers.

In a news release, the vice president of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) said the decision “defies common sense and decency.”

“How can any employer, let alone the provincial government, say they are working to act on reconciliation while refusing to acknowledge the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation?” Bobby-Joe Borodey said in a news release.

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“If they are still searching for something to act on, here it is.”

The province previously said it would encourage reflection and will lower flags on Alberta government buildings on Sept. 30, “to honour lives lost at residential schools.” It also said “commemoration ceremonies will take place.”

Alberta Indigenous Relations press secretary Adrienne South said for provincially-regulated industries, the question of a work holiday remains a decision for individual employers, unless an employee’s employment contract or collective bargaining agreement specifically grants federally-regulated holidays.

She added the government will host an outdoor ceremony with Indigenous elders and community leaders on that day, as well as lowering flags to half-mast to honour lives lost at residential schools.

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