The second annual Truth and Reconciliation Day arrives September 30. While the new event is a statutory holiday for all federal workers and most First Nations, not all provinces are willing to deal with having to reflect on the atrocities Canada committed against its Indigenous population.
Schools, banks, post offices and federal government workers get the day off. Private companies have the choice whether to give employees the day off or not.
Not everyone has agreed that Indigenous history needs to be honoured.
British Columbia does not observe it as a holiday, but the province marked it as a day of commemoration with some government employees working a shorter day. BC says they need to talk to more residential school survivors and their “Indigenous partners and communities” to really understand everything before understanding the impacts and mitigation needed.
Alberta observes it as an optional holiday like Easter Monday. No surprise there given their past way of dealing with First Nations. Saskatchewan followed suit, but its three largest cities – Regina, Saskatoon and Prince Albert – ignored the province and made it a holiday.
Perhaps the history of Louis Riel played a part in Manitoba, which closes schools and gives provincial workers the day off. It’s not official but it might be next year according to those who think they would have a role to play in truth and reconciliation.
Ontario says no to honouring Indigenous people even as a government spokesperson insists the province “is working in collaboration with Indigenous partners, survivors and affected families to ensure the respectful commemoration of this day within the province, similar to Remembrance Day.”
News Brunswick declined to observe the day even while its cities have gotten on board with the truth. Nova Scotia has joined the make-your-choice crowd with no paid holiday, but we want you all to think about what you have done to the First Nations.
Quebec says no holiday but that’s what we expect from a government that has no desire to acknowledge the value of Indigenous language and culture.
Prince Edward Island stepped up to the plate and recognized the holiday. It may be that the smaller places are more likely to know the value of friendship and community than elsewhere.
Newfoundland and Labrador have said sort of yes adding there are ongoing consultations. The Yukon seems to be saying the same thing.
The Northwest Territories has gotten on board with a resounding yes but in a surprising move Nunavut is still apparently deciding whether it should be one or not.
Given the way the people responded to Orange Shirt Day versus the non-gender, politically correct, governmentally acceptable Day of Truth and Reconciliation, this is not a surprising moment.
Taking over a grass-roots movement like Orange Shirt Day to turn it into a day that does not even come close to making anyone think of the meaning behind Orange Shirt Day is 1984 government doublespeak in which you say words like Truth and Reconciliation without saying who or why.
In the end, it shows that one person can affect the perception of social, moral and cultural standards of any society, can overcome what they have been subject to. A simple symbol could be all that was needed. While there is not a holiday for everyone, in the future we might see the truth and wonder of our life together.