Liberals To Establish Federal Holiday Marking Painful Residential Schools Era

Liberals To Establish Federal Holiday Marking Painful Residential Schools Era

OTTAWA — The federal government says it will back an NDP private member’s bill calling for the establishment of a new statutory holiday to be known as National Indigenous Peoples Day.

The new national holiday — whose date has yet to be chosen — will address a recommendation of the Truth and Reconciliation calling on Ottawa to establish a day for reconciliation that honours survivors and their family members, and ensures public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools.

“The prime minister has said it many times: there is no relationship more important to Canada than the one with Indigenous peoples,” Simon Ross, Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez’ press secretary, told HuffPost Canada Wednesday.

Prior to the 2015 election, Justin Trudeau had pledged to fully implement the TRC recommendations. He later reaffirmed that commitment when the commission released its 94 calls to action.

“Call to Action 80 asks the Government of Canada to establish a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to honour the survivors of residential schools. That’s exactly what we will do, and we will do that in partnership with Indigenous peoples,” Ross said.

The federal government has begun reaching out to Indigenous leaders but hasn’t started formal negotiations.

In a statement Wednesday, Assembly of First Nations’ National Chief Perry Bellegarde called the residential schools era a dark chapter that Canadians must never forget.

“A day dedicated to remembering and honouring the students of residential schools will help to increase public understanding of our shared history, and better inform our work together going forward,” he said. “It is an important part of reconciliation and First Nations need to be involved in choosing an appropriate date.”