The Senate unanimously votes the creation of a national day for truth and reconciliation – National
A bill creating a statutory holiday to commemorate the tragic legacy of residential schools in Canada received Royal Assent Thursday after being passed unanimously in the Senate.
The swift passage of Bill C-5 means that September 30 will become the first of what will be an annual national day for truth and reconciliation.
House passes bill to create national day for truth and reconciliation
Both Houses of Parliament have been urged to speed up the bill after the gruesome discovery last week of what are believed to be the remains of 215 Indigenous children in anonymous graves at a former residential school in Kamloops, B.C. .
The bill creates a statutory holiday for federal government employees and federally regulated workplaces.
The Minister of Canadian Heritage, Steven Guilbeault, says the goal is to give Canadians the opportunity to discover and reflect on a dark chapter in their country’s history and to commemorate the survivors, their families and their communities, as requested by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Indigenous leaders.
The “terrible” discovery of child remains in Kamloops is “a stark reminder of the heavy toll of our colonial past,” Guilbeault said in French.
“Tackling the consequences of colonial violence must go beyond words… Bill C-5 is an important step on the road to reconciliation, which will not happen in the blink of an eye.
Canadian government providing mental health supports to Indigenous communities: Minister Miller
Over more than 100 years, some 150,000 Indigenous children have been torn from their families and forced to attend religious residential schools, where many have suffered physical and sexual abuse, malnutrition and neglect. More than 4,000 are said to have died.
Children, 12 and 14, Charged in “Bonnie and Clyde” Shooting with Police
Montreal Canadiens fans speak out on Mark Scheifele’s ‘brutal’ blow to Jake Evans
Although unanimously supported in the Senate, Guilbeault faced some questions about the cost of creating a new national holiday and whether it is simply an empty symbolic gesture.
Conservative Senate Leader Don Plett noted that the government has been slow to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action, including those regarding the location and commemoration of burial sites in boarding schools.
“Why, Minister, have you chosen to focus on this call to action (to create a national day for truth and reconciliation) and not on others?” Plett asked.
“Mr. Minister, is it because it is easier to give (time off) the bureaucrats, because it is really the bureaucrats who take the time off here, than to work on the more pressing but difficult issues that face indigenous communities every day of the week?
Expect more bodies to be found at residential school sites, says former TRC president
Plett further asked how the government could ensure that it was a day of remembrance and not just a “day to stay home, step up and watch TV”.
Guilbeault recognized that the government cannot force people to use the day to reflect on the trauma of residential schools. But he expressed hope it will be like Remembrance Day, creating an opportunity to educate and remind Canadians of the history of residential schools, honor the victims and celebrate the survivors.
“Let us use this day as a day of reflection but also a day of learning,” he said.
Guilbeault could not provide details on federal plans to mark the first day of truth and reconciliation on September 30. The commemorations should be led by indigenous people, he said.
Officials have estimated that the day off will cost the federal government nearly $ 166 million each year, mostly in lost productivity, and an additional $ 223 million for federally regulated employers.
© 2021 The Canadian Press