Federal bill would make Sept. 30 holiday for Indigenous reconciliation

Orange Shirt Day refers to piece of clothing taken from a child at residential school in 1973

Sept. 30 might become a new statutory holiday commemorating victims of residential schools.

The House of Commons heritage committee approved a measure Tuesday to make the last day of September a National Truth and Reconciliation Day. That date is already used as an informal occasion to commemorate the experiences of residential-school students, called Orange Shirt Day.

It’s called that in memory of a piece of a clothing then-six-year-old Phyllis Webstad had taken from her on her first day at a residential school in 1973.

“We picked Sept. 30 because September was the time when children were taken away from their homes,” she told the committee during a previous session, with the specific day chosen to give teachers time to tell modern children the history of the schools.

The heritage committee added the new federal holiday into NDP MP Georgina Jolibois’ Bill C-369, which creates a National Indigenous Peoples’ Day on June 21. It has been meeting for the past few months to discuss the bill, hearing testimony from survivors and Indigenous leaders.

Both the Native Women’s Association of Canada and the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, representing 60,000 Inuit people across Canada, expressed support for two separate dates.

“Combining a day of celebration with a day of reconciliation, in our view, is inappropriate and disrespectful,” Virginia Lomax, a lawyer for NWAC, told the group on Jan. 29.

Liberal MP Randy Boissonnault said Tuesday the additions were in keeping with call to action No. 80 from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which seeks a statutory holiday “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.”

The bill has yet to go to the Commons for a final vote.

Stephen Cook, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Figures reveal spike in highway traffic jams between Abbotsford and Langley

Nearly one in 20 westbound vehicles between Abbotsford and Langley clocked at under 60 km/h

Taser takedown in Chilliwack complex after incident gets violent

Male suspect became agitated under questioning and repeatedly punched an officer

Harrison looks to test viability of solar power

Harrison has applied for a grant to see whether solar power is an option for its village buildings

Agassiz man pleads guilty in snake venom death of toddler

Plea comes more than five years after the incident in North Vancouver

Funding uncertain, but Agassiz’s Storytime in the Park will go on, organizer says

The literacy program takes place each summer in Agassiz, Harrison and Seabird Island

VIDEO: Agassiz remembers local officer at grave-marking ceremony

Montague White-Fraser had been buried in the Old Cemetery for 92 years without a headstone

Canadian high school science courses behind on climate change, says UBC study

Researchers found performance on key areas varies by province and territory

UPDATE: One dead after house fire in rural Maple Ridge

Dewdney Trunk Road closed, traffic being re-routed

Six inducted into BC Hockey Hall of Fame

The 26th ceremony in Penticton welcomed powerful figures both from on and off the ice

Highway 1 closed near Revelstoke

No estimated time for opening

CRA program to help poor file taxes yields noticeable bump in people helped

Extra money allows volunteer-driven clinics to operate year-round

RCMP investigate two shootings in the Lower Mainland

Incidents happened in Surrey, with a victim being treated at Langley Memorial Hospital

Recall: Certain Pacific oysters may pose threat of paralytic shellfish poisoning

Consumers urged to either return affected packages or throw them out

How a Kamloops-born man helped put us on the moon

Jim Chamberlin did troubleshooting for the Apollo program, which led to its success

Most Read