Canada just got a new national holiday to recognize the legacy of residential schools
In the wake of the tragic discovery of the remains of 215 children on the grounds of what was the Kamloops Indian Residential School in B.C., the Canadian government has introduced a new national holiday to mark the legacy of the country's residential school system and the abhorrent treatment of Indigenous populations.
September 30 will now be the official National Day for Truth and Reconciliation thanks to the fast-tracked Bill C-5 that just got royal assent on Thursday.
In response to one of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, and to commemorate the legacy of residential schools, we introduced legislation to make September 30th the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation - and this evening, it received Royal Assent. https://t.co/FeIs80DwZX— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) June 4, 2021
The goal of the statutory holiday (for federally-regulated workplaces, mind you), according to Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault per the Canadian Press, is for citizens to take a moment of pause, learn about and ruminate on what the government acknowledges is an extremely dark chapter in Canada's history.
“Addressing the consequences of colonial violence needs to go beyond words," Guilbeault said in the Senate yesterday. "Bill C-5 is an important step in the path toward reconciliation, which won't be achieved in the blink of an eye."
The date selected for the holiday coincides with Orange Shirt Day, which likewise commemorates how First Nations children were taken from their communities and forced into the residential school system, where they were stripped of their culture and forced to adopt Euro-centric, Christian values and ways of life.
Not only did the schools serve to wash away children's language, traditions and history, but they were also notorious for every form of abuse imaginable.
Also: keep looking for remains of children in all schools across 🇨🇦, interview anyone still alive who worked there and hold them accountable, identify the children. Follow Germany's lead on how they handled the Holocaust. This is no different.— Sandy Kiaizadeh (@SandyKiaizadeh) June 4, 2021
As noted by MPs in the House of Commons yesterday, the government has only fulfilled 12 of the 94 calls to action listed in the Truth and Reconciliation Report in 2015.
The opposition has been calling on the government to accelerate their progress and work toward truth and reconciliation and "provide survivors, their families and their communities with the supports they need to deal with the trauma," NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said while outlining a new motion on the subject on Wednesday.
"Justice demands action and that's what we're fighting for."
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