The province (Manitoba) has decided to acknowledge and observe the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation (NDTR) on Sept. 30.
Observance of the holiday, which will see Manitoba public schools closed and non-essential public servants off work, will advance reconciliation, and allow residents time to reflect on the residential school experiences of First Nations, Métis and Inuit, Alan Lagimodiere, Indigenous Reconciliation and Northern Relations Minister announced Friday.
“We all have a role to play in reconciliation,” he said in a statement. “We can all listen, learn, and support the healing needed to address the intergenerational trauma caused by the residential school system. Reflecting on our tragic history by recognizing the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation provides an opportunity for Manitobans to learn about the ongoing legacy of residential schools.”
The NDTR was instituted as a federal statutory holiday in June by the federal government in recognition of Indigenous families and communities harmed by Canada’s residential schools, which existed up to 1996.
“Thanks to the hard work of survivors, who pushed for the recognition of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation as a provincial holiday, Manitobans can have the chance to learn, grow, and move toward reconciliation,” provincial NDP leader Wab Kinew said in a statement on Friday. “In 2017, I introduced a bill to recognize this day in Manitoba, which was one step, and our NDP team has been honoured to work alongside survivors and communities who pushed the PCs to take this latest step.”
Katherine Legrange, director of 60s Scoop Legacy of Canada, said the provincial recognition is a good first step. She said real reconciliation can only come with the truth.
“We encourage all Manitobans to take this day to learn the truth behind the terrible IRS (Indian Residential Schools), Day Schools, and Sixties Scoop policies of the federal and provincial governments that continue to affect our families today,” she said in a statement. “We encourage the minister to engage with survivors with lived experience in amending Wab Kinew’s 2017 Bill for Orange Shirt Day to acknowledge this day as a general holiday in Manitoba, and support our healing, going forward.”
Grand Chief Arlen Dumas of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs said on Friday his organization appreciates the province’s decision.
“There are some provinces that will not be observing the national holiday,” he said. “We all look forward to September 30 and paying our respect to the former IRS students and helping this government to move forward on the path to reconciliation with First Nations in Manitoba.”
Sept. 30 will also see flags on all provincial government buildings lowered to half-mast in observance of National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
Nova Scotia also said Friday that it will recognize the day. British Columbia and the Northwest Territories have already indicated they will observe the day.