This Thursday marks Canada’s first-ever National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, and while its significance will be felt deeply across the country, every province will be commemorating it differently. The day will pay tribute to the lost children and survivors of Canada’s residential schools, with Indigenous-led events dedicated to mourning, reflection, and reconciliation.
Despite it being a federal statutory holiday, provinces and territories have made their own decisions about whether or not to give their public sector employees the day off. Here’s a look at what to expect from coast to coast this Thursday.
Since it’s a statutory day, workers in federal and federally regulated industries in BC will already receive the day off. However, the province has advised public employers across the province to honour the occasion. Most schools, post-secondary institutions, including SFU and UBC, as well as some health sector workplaces will close down. Vancouver will observe the day by shutting down city facilities and will host recognition actions for the public to participate in. Other public services will operate as they normally would on statutory holidays.
The Alberta government has decided not to recognize September 30th as a stat holiday, but employers are still encouraged to give their staff time off. City employees in Calgary in Edmonton will be given the day off and both cities will be hosting commemorative events dedicated to Indigenous reconciliation and education. Calgary’s Orange Shirt Day ceremony will take place at Fort Calgary on September 30th and the city will participate in a Canada-wide outdoor event that will be live-streamed for those participating from home.
Many employers in Saskatchewan are offering a paid day off on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, but the province has not made it a statutory holiday, meaning that provincial employees who aren’t regulated by the federal government will still have to work, according to Global News. The province’s Minister of First Nations, Metis, and Northern Affairs said that all flags will be lowered to half-mast and the public is encouraged to commemorate and reflect on the day’s meaning.
Unlike Saskatchewan and Alberta, Manitoba will recognize September 30th as a stat holiday, meaning that schools will be closed, no classes will be held, public servants will receive the day off and non-essential government services will be closed for the day, the province announced in a recent statement. Flags will be lowered to half-mast and Indigenous-led events will take place on the holiday, as they have been throughout the month, in an effort to advance reconciliation and to hear Indigenous stories and perspectives.
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Ontario has not made September 30th a statutory holiday, but “employers and employees may agree to treat this day as a public holiday, and some may be required to do so if it has been negotiated into collective agreements or employment contracts,” said the Ministry of Labour in a statement to Curiocity. Cities around the province, including Toronto and Ottawa, will treat the day as an educational opportunity with resources for the public about how to contribute and participate in this important new holiday. Landmarks like the Toronto sign will also be lit orange, and flags lowered to half-mast.
Quebec also will not be observing it as a statutory holiday, however, financial institutions will be closed as they are federally regulated companies, according to Revenu Québec. “Since this day coincides with a number of tax deadlines, Revenu Québec is extending deadlines that would normally fall on September 30 to the next business day,” they said in a statement. An “Every Child Matters” march will take place at Montreal’s Place du Canada and participants are encouraged to wear orange shirts and bring their drums.
Newfoundland and Labrador
The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador announced that the province will observe the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, with all government offices and entities closed for the day. St. John’s will also be observing the holiday, with municipal buildings and services closed and regular services suspended. The City will be posting community events and resources on its website ahead of September 30th.
Nova Scotia will recognize September 30th as a statutory holiday this year. Provincial government buildings and schools will close for the day, and the province is funding a week of online educational programming led by the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation. “Whether it be through quiet reflection, participating in events, or sharing conversation, I encourage you to recognize the legacy of residential schools,” the premier said in a statement this week.
Though the province of New Brunswick has opted not to recognize it as a stat holiday, major cities like Saint John, Moncton, and Miramichi have chosen to observe the occasion, with closures of non-essential municipal services and flags lowered to half-mast, reports CTV. Provincial services and schools will stay open and private businesses can choose whether or not to close.
Prince Edward Island
P.E.I. has chosen to honour the stat holiday this Thursday, which means that government offices, non-essential services and schools will close for the day. The province’s premier is inviting Mi’kmaq leaders, members of the Indigenous community and the public to participate in two minutes of reflection outside of the provincial administration building, followed by a lowering of the flags to honour the victims and legacy of residential schools. Government buildings in Charlottetown will be lit orange in tribute.
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The Government of Northwest Territories will mark September 30th as a holiday for the territory’s public service, who will get a paid day off to reflect on the legacy of residential schools and consider ways to advance reconciliation.
Nunavut plans to make September 30th a statutory holiday next year. Though it will not be recognized provincially this year, there are many Indigenous-led events taking place throughout the day in Iqaluit, including a moment of silence and a community walk in honour and in remembrance of residential school survivors around Canada.
The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation will not be recognized as a stat holiday in the Yukon, however, schools will be closed. “The Government of Yukon will work closely with First Nations, businesses, and communities in the coming months on how to mark this day and to commemorate it with respect and compassion,” the territory announced last month.