Parliament of Canada

The federal government will declare a new national statutory holiday marking the legacy of Canada’s Indian residential schools, pending consultation with Indigenous groups, according to a Globe & Mail report.

The holiday is expected to be named the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation—one of 94 calls to action set out by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) that investigated the history and impacts of Canada’s residential schools from 2008 to 2015.

The commission found that the impact of residential schools amounted to cultural genocide.

“The overall picture is that it is important to have that day set aside so Canadians continually get it and will never ever forget the impact of genocide in the residential schools on Indigenous peoples,” Perry Bellegarde, the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), said.

The current sticking point for the holiday, according to the Globe & Mail report, is the date.

The AFN initially said the holiday should be on June 21, National Indigenous Peoples Day. But the federal government thought that would be too close to St. Jean Baptiste Day, a Quebec holiday on June 24, and Canada Day on July 1.

The second option is Orange Shirt Day on Sept. 30, which is near the time of year when children were taken from their families to attend the residential schools.

“We’re pushing to advocate for a national day, a statutory holiday, for reconciliation, whether that be June 21, or that be Orange Shirt on Sept. 30,” Bellegarde said.

The Department of Canadian Heritage told the Globe that “the day will be developed in consultation with the First Nations, Inuit and Métis people to ensure it is meaningful and truthful.”

Once enacted, the holiday would become a day off for federal employees. It would be up to the provinces and territories to determine if they recognize the holiday.

There are just five other national statutory holidays: New Year’s Day, Good Friday, Canada Day, Labour Day, and Christmas Day. Other holidays throughout the year are determined by the provinces and territories.

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