Monday could have been a stat holiday. This is why it isn’t


TORONTO — If Canadians weren’t in the middle of an election campaign, then we might be taking Monday off work and school to reflect on one of the many injustices done to Indigenous people.

Sept. 30 was the date of a new, Indigenous-focused statutory holiday that was proposed in legislation that died when Parliament was prorogued for the election.

Bill C-369 was first introduced in 2017 by Georgina Jolibois, an NDP MP from Saskatchewan.

It would have created a sixth national statutory holiday, to join New Year’s Day, Good Friday, Canada Day, Labour Day and Christmas Day. Other federal holidays, including Thanksgiving and Remembrance Day, are not recognized in every province.

Jolibois had wanted to make the holiday on June 21, by declaring the existing National Indigenous Peoples Day a statutory holiday.

The government rewrote her bill substantially. Among the changes were refocusing the holiday, arguing that a day to somberly mark the legacy of residential schools was preferable to the more celebratory nature of National Indigenous Peoples Day.

Other Liberal changes to Jolibois’ bill included renaming the proposed holiday to the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and moving it to Sept. 30 – the date of Orange Shirt Day, on which victims of residential schools are honoured.

Orange Shirt Day, which started in 2013, is named for residential school survivor Phyllis Webstad, who had a bright orange shirt taken from her on her first day at a school in B.C. in 1973.

Dozens of events are planned across the country to mark this year’s Orange Shirt Day. Webstad will share her story on Oct. 2 at a gathering in Calgary.

With files from producer Rachel Aiello