We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, to establish, as a statutory holiday, a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation 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.

Indigenous Watchdog Status Update

Current StatusJan. 10, 2022IN PROGRESS
Previous StatusDec. 5, 2021IN PROGRESS

Why “COMPLETE”?

June 3, 2021 – Bill C-5 “An Act to amend the Bills of Exchange Act, the Interpretation Act and the Canada Labour Code (National Day for Truth and Reconciliation)” a bill that designates Sept. 30 as National Day for Truth and Reconciliation passed in the Senate and received Royal Assent.

Bill C-369 “An Act to amend the Bills of Exchange Act, the Interpretation Act and the Canada Labour Code (National Day for Truth and Reconciliation)” has been re-introduced as Bill C-5 on with First Reading on Sept. 29, 2020

The “National Day for Truth and Reconciliation” is proposed for Sept. 30 — also known as Orange Shirt Day which commemorates generations of children who attended residential schools”. CBC

The following comes for the most part from “Two Row Time” (Sept. 8, 2021) with subsequent updates released from various media.

Provinces honouring the “National Day for Truth and Reconciliation” as a statutory holiday

Province/
Territory
Indigenous PopulationParty in powerDateComment
B.C.270,585NDPAug. 3Our government is calling on all of us who deliver services to the public to use this opportunity to consider what each of us can do as individuals to advance reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and to recommit to understanding the truth of our shared history, to accept and learn from it and in doing so, help to create a better, more inclusive British Columbia.”
Manitoba223,310Conservative“We can all listen, learn and support the healing needed to address the intergenerational trauma caused by the residential school system. ”Indigenous Reconciliation Minister Alan Lagimodiere
Nova Scotia51,495ConservativeSept. 3“We are taking this step to recognize the importance of honouring First Nations, Inuit and Métis residential school survivors and their families and communities,” said Premier Tim Houston.
PEI2,740ConservativeSept. 9What a better place than the Birthplace of Confederation to, in partnership with Indigenous people, help move forward the path towards real and lasting reconciliation,” said Senator Brian Francis. 
NWT20,860ConsensusAug. 26Issued an order to mark September 30th a holiday for the territory’s public service, commemorating the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
Nunavut30,550ConsensusSept. 16Sept. 30 to be recognized as a statutory holiday throughout Nunavut in 2022. Need to amend Nunavut’s Public Service Act, Legislation Act and Labour Standards Act
599,54036% of the Indigenous population in Canada

Provincial opposition to Bill C-5 “National Day for Truth and Reconciliation” as a statutory holiday

This provinces who will not recognize Sept 30, the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, as a statutory holiday

Province/
Territory
Indigenous
Population
Party in PowerDateComment
Alberta258,640ConservativeAlberta told CTV Edmonton it won’t legislate the holiday, but that provincial government flags will be lowered.
Saskatchewan175,015ConservativeThere are no plans to make changes to the province’s employment act to make Sept. 30 a public holiday for workers in provincial workplaces
Ontario374,395ConservativeOntario Public Service employees will be observing a day of commemoration, similar to Remembrance Day and Easter Monday,” said spokesperson Curtis Lindsay (Toronto Star, Sept 8, 2021)
Québec182,890ConservativeQuebec Premier Francois Legault said in June there were no plans to add a statutory holiday. That position hasn’t changed, said Mathieu Durocher, spokesman for Indigenous Affairs Minister Ian Lafreniere.
New Brunswick29,380ConservativeIndicated they would not be observing the holiday at a provincial level
Nfld. & Labrador45,725LiberalSept.9Indicated they would not be observing the holiday at a provincial level
1,066,045 64% of the Indigenous population in Canada

Yukon said in a news release that it will be working with First Nations, businesses and communities over the next few months on how to best mark the day with respect and compassion.

What is Orange Shirt Day?

From the Orange Shirt Society

Orange Shirt Day is a legacy of the St. Joseph Mission (SJM) Residential School (1891-1981) Commemoration Project and Reunion events that took place in Williams Lake, BC, Canada, in May 2013. This project was the vision of Esketemc (Alkali Lake) Chief Fred Robbins, who is a former student himself.  It brought together former students and their families from the Secwepemc, Tsilhqot’in, Southern Dakelh and St’at’imc  Nations along with the Cariboo Regional District, the Mayors and municipalities, School Districts and civic organizations in the Cariboo Region. 

The events were designed to commemorate the residential school experience, to witness and honour the healing journey of the survivors and their families, and to commit to the ongoing process of reconciliation.  Chief Justice Murray Sinclair challenged all of the participants to keep the reconciliation process alive, as a result of the realization that every former student had similar stories. 

Orange Shirt Day is a legacy of this project.  As spokesperson for the Reunion group leading up to the events, former student Phyllis (Jack) Webstad told her story of her first day at residential school when her shiny new orange shirt, bought by her grandmother, was taken from her as a six-year old girl.  

The annual Orange Shirt Day on September 30th opens the door to global conversation on all aspects of Residential Schools. It is an opportunity to create meaningful discussion about the effects of Residential Schools and the legacy they have left behind.  A discussion all Canadians can tune into and create bridges with each other for reconciliation.  A day for survivors to be reaffirmed that they matter, and so do those that have been affected.  Every Child Matters, even if they are an adult, from now on. 

The date was chosen because it is the time of year in which children were taken from their homes to residential schools, and because it is an opportunity to set the stage for anti-racism and anti-bullying policies for the coming school year. It is an opportunity for First Nations, local governments, schools and communities to come together in the spirit of reconciliation and hope for generations of children to come.

It all started right here in the Cariboo, and as a result, School District No. 27 was  chosen by the First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC) to pilot curriculum changes for all Grade 5 and Grade 10 students reflecting the residential school experience, which have now been implemented province-wide.

Phyllis Webstad’s Story

I went to the Mission for one school year in 1973/1974. I had just turned 6 years old. I lived with my grandmother on the Dog Creek reserve. We never had very much money, but somehow my granny managed to buy me a new outfit to go to the Mission school. I remember going to Robinson’s store and picking out a shiny orange shirt. It had string laced up in front, and was so bright and exciting – just like I felt to be going to school! 

When I got to the Mission, they stripped me, and took away my clothes, including the orange shirt! I never wore it again. I didn’t understand why they wouldn’t give it back to me, it was mine! The color orange has always reminded me of that and how my feelings didn’t matter, how no one cared and how I felt like I was worth nothing. All of us little children were crying and no one cared.

I was 13.8 years old and in grade 8 when my son Jeremy was born. Because my grandmother and mother both attended residential school for 10 years each, I never knew what a parent was supposed to be like. With the help of my aunt, Agness Jack, I was able to raise my son and have him know me as his mother.

I went to a treatment centre for healing when I was 27 and have been on this healing journey since then. I finally get it, that the feeling of worthlessness and insignificance, ingrained in me from my first day at the mission, affected the way I lived my life for many years. Even now, when I know nothing could be further than the truth, I still sometimes feel that I don’t matter. Even with all the work I’ve done!

I am honored to be able to tell my story so that others may benefit and understand, and maybe other survivors will feel comfortable enough to share their stories.

Timelines for Bill C-5 and Bill C-369

June 15, 2017 – Bill C-369 “An Act to amend the Bills of Exchange Act, the Interpretation Act and the Canada Labour Code (National Aboriginal Day)” introduced for First reading. The Bill when – and if – passed will make National Aboriginal Day a statutory holiday.

June 21, 2017 – Officially changed National Aboriginal Day to National Indigenous People’s Day.

Sept. 26, 2018 – Bill C-361 passed second reading with a vote of 202 in favour and 79 against. It will now be studied by the federal heritage committee.

Feb. 9, 2019 – “Bill C-369 An Act to amend the Bills of Exchange Act, the Interpretation Act and the Canada Labour Code (National Day for Truth and Reconciliation)”. This enactment amends certain Acts to make National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, observed on September 30, a holiday.

Purpose
0.‍1 The purpose of this Act is to fulfill the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action # 80 by creating a federal holiday called the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation which seeks to honour Survivors, their families, and communities, and ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools, and other atrocities committed against First Nation, Inuit and Metis people, remains a vital component of the reconciliation process.

Mar. 20, 2019 – Bill C-369 passed through its final reading in the House of Commons last Wednesday. It will now go before the Senate before it becomes law. National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is proposed for Sept. 30 — also known as Orange Shirt Day which commemorates generations of children who attended residential schools. (CBC)

June 21, 2019 – Bill C – 369 died in the Senate after the Conservatives stalled debate on any private member’s bill. “Any bill that hasn’t passed by the time the election is called —whether a private members’ bill or government legislation—would have to be reintroduced in the next Parliament by whoever forms government.” “Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez’ office says instead of having the stat holiday, the government will fund “local Indigenous events” that day, but gave no indication this is a proposal they’ll push to revive in the future”. (CTV News).

Sept.29, 2020 – Bill C-369 “An Act to amend the Bills of Exchange Act, the Interpretation Act and the Canada Labour Code (National Day for Truth and Reconciliation)” has been re-introduced as Bill C-5

June 3, 2021 Bill C-5 “An Act to amend the Bills of Exchange Act, the Interpretation Act and the Canada Labour Code (National Day for Truth and Reconciliation)” a bill that designates Sept. 30 as National Day for Truth and Reconciliation passed in the Senate and received Royal Assent. The federal government picked Sept. 30 because it already coincides with Orange Shirt Day, federal Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault said. Orange Shirt Day is an annual unofficial commemoration of survivors and victims of residential schools.

National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation: Survivors Flag

On Sept. 23, 2021 the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation unveiled a new Survivors’ Flag to mark the first official National Day of Truth and Reconciliation.

For an explanation of the symbolism in the flag see:

Official Federal Government Response: Sept. 5, 2019

To enable communities to recognize and commemorate the legacy of residential schools on the proposed National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and to celebrate the unique heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples on National Indigenous Peoples Day, Budget 2019 announced $10 million over 2 years, starting in fiscal year 2019 to 2020, to support non-governmental and community organizations holding events in communities across Canada, through Canadian Heritage’s Celebration and Commemoration Program