Ottawa is currently considering a new national statutory holiday dedicated to the dark history behind Canada's Indian residential schools.
The federal government has been working with the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) to create a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, which would be set aside to reflect on the years of abuse of children at the residential schools. Perry Bellegarde, the National Chief of the AFN, told The Globe and Mail that he believes it's important for all Canadians to know about this part of their nation's history.
"It is important to have that day set aside so Canadians continually get it and will never ever forget the impact of genocide in the residential schools on Indigenous peoples."
The Department of Canadian Heritage added that the First Nations, Inuit and Métis will also be involved in the creation of the holiday to ensure that it is as meaningful as possible.
The AFN first suggested June 21 for the holiday, which is National Indigenous Peoples Day; however, the government felt that it was too close to other holidays like St. Jean Baptiste Day in Quebec and Canada Day.
Another suggestion was "Orange Shirt Day" on Sept. 30, which marked the day when children were separated from their families and brought to residential schools. The "orange shirt" references that which was worn by one Phyllis Webstad, a six-year-old native child, who was taken from her grandmother in 1973.
If passed into law, Orange Shirt Day would become Canada's sixth statutory holiday, alongside Christmas, New Year's, Good Friday, Canada Day and Labour Day.
Source: The Globe and Mail