new national holiday canada

Canada might get a new national holiday to remember residential schools

The federal government is proposing a new bill that would make Sept. 30 a national holiday, marking the legacy of Canada's residential schools for Indigenous children. 

On Tuesday, Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault brought forward the bill to make the day - called the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation - a statutory holiday for federally regulated sectors like banking and telecommunications.

The new legislation would not mandate the holiday in provincially regulated sectors, such as schools and workplaces. 

While the day is already known as Orange Shirt Day, Guilbeault told the Toronto Star that he hopes Canadians use it for solemn remembrance.

He also added that Ottawa wants to work with Indigenous groups to help provide classrooms with historical materials that would remain in session each year on this day. 

"If provinces decide not to make it a holiday, it could be a day in the classrooms where we talk about this, which our history books have largely ignored," Guilbeault said.

"Maybe we can play a role in helping to remember, and to increase the level of awareness around Indigenous issues in this country and move the dial a little bit further on reconciliation."

Perry Bellegarde, national chief of the Assembly of First Nations took to Twitter to thank Guilbeault for the new bill. 

A similar bill was proposed before the last federal election by former NDP MP Georgina Jolibois but did not make it through the Senate. 

Lead photo by

Library Archives Canada

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