National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action included a call for the federal government to establish a statutory holiday, a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, to honour survivors, families, and communities, and ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process.

In August 2021, legislation came into force creating the new federal holiday — providing all federal government and federally-regulated private sector employees with a paid holiday on September 30 of each calendar year beginning in 2021.

The Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) subsequently amended the Public Service Holiday Order made under the Public Service Act to allow for its employees to observe the holiday on Sept. 30, 2021; however, there wasn’t sufficient time to amend the Employment Standards Act (Act)– and extend the holiday to all NWT employees – prior to the 2021 holiday.

Public support for stat holiday

After the 2021 holiday, the GNWT conducted engagement with Indigenous governments and organizations, businesses, industry organizations and labour groups, non-profit organizations, community governments and the public on whether the Act should be amended to establish September 30 as a statutory holiday, and to ensure the holiday would be observed in a way that considers and respects their views.

Overall, public engagement indicated support for amending the Act to establish the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation as a statutory holiday in the NWT.

Bill 47 came into force in June 2022, which adds the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to the list of statutory holidays in the Act and extends the holiday to all workers in the NWT.

Further engagement taking place

Feedback gathered during engagement indicated that other meaningful action needs to take place alongside this day, such as events, ceremonies, education, information, and supports for NWT residents.

Over the coming months, the GNWT will work with Indigenous governments and organizations, and community governments to explore how the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation could be further supported and acknowledged beyond the establishment of a statutory holiday.