Canada Introduces New Federal Holiday Commencing September 30, 2021: National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

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On June 3, 2021, the federal government’s Bill C-5, An Act to amend the Bills of Exchange Act, the Interpretation Act and the Canada Labour Code (National Day for Truth and Reconciliation) received Royal Assent.  This bill amends the Canada Labour Code to provide for annual observance by the federal government and federally regulated workplaces of a new statutory holiday on September 30, the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.  Federally regulated workplaces include but are not limited to workplaces relating to air transportation, banks, radio and television broadcasting, railways that cross provincial and international borders, and telecommunications.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) was established in 2008 to document the history and legacy of residential schools, which were operated between the late 1800s and the late 1990s by the federal government and Christian churches as part of a federal policy to assimilate Indigenous people into Canadian society.  Indigenous children were forcibly removed from their homes and taken to the schools where some children experienced abuse.

In 2015, the TRC issued Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action, which contained 94 calls to action in response to the injustices inflicted on First Nations, Inuit and the Métis Nation, including the forced removal of children from their families to attend residential schools and the abuse the children experienced there.  The establishment of a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation as a statutory holiday is in response to the 80th call to action, which urged the federal government to work with Indigenous people to establish such a holiday. As stated in the calls to action report, the holiday’s purpose is to “honour Survivors, their families, and communities, and ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process.”

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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