The Federal Government of Canada has announced plans to introduce a new statutory holiday in recognition of the hardship and suffering endured by Canada’s Indigenous peoples since colonization. The new holiday is an element of the Federal Government’s effort to respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94, “calls to action” to address the historical and ongoing mistreatment of Canada’s Indigenous communities. The proposed holiday will likely fall either on June 21st or September 30th. June 21st is already unofficially recognized as National Indigenous Peoples day in Canada. September 30th is currently recognized unofficially as “Orange Shirt Day” in Canada, coinciding with the time of the year when Indigenous children would be separated from their families to be ushered into residential schools. The federal government hopes the proposed holiday will encourage Canadians to reflect on the plight of children who were caught up in Canada’s residential schools system which caused considerable intergenerational trauma for Indigenous families.
If the proposal passes, the holiday would be enshrined within federal legislation. However, each province would have to decide whether to recognize the day as a provincial statutory holiday. Unless the Ontario government adopts the new holiday, provincially-regulated employees (who account for the vast majority of Ontario’s workforce) would not be entitled to the new holiday off work. The new holiday would initially only be applicable to employees working in federally regulated industries such as banking or for Crown corporations. The addition of the proposed holiday would bring the number of statutory holidays for federally regulated employees up to ten.
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