EN - News

Canada Is Getting A New National Holiday For 'Truth & Reconciliation'

It's meant to "commemorate the legacy of residential schools," says Trudeau.

A bill to create a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation has been given royal assent, which means Canada has a new national holiday.

"In response to one of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Calls to Action, and to commemorate the legacy of residential schools, we introduced legislation to make September 30th the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation," Justin Trudeau tweeted on June 3.

Minister of Canadian Heritage Steven Guilbeault, who sponsored the bill, tweeted that having this national holiday is "an important step towards reconciliation."

According to The Canadian Press, Parliament was called to fast-track the bill after the remains of 215 Indigenous children were found at a former residential school in B.C.

It being given royal assent means that there will now be an annual holiday for federal government employees and federally regulated workplaces on September 30.

What is the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation?

This day of commemoration has been in the works for years. Originally two dates were being considered: National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21 and Orange Shirt Day on September 30.

Orange Shirt Day comes from the story of Phyllis (Jack) Webstad, a former residential school student who had her orange shirt taken away from her when she was six years old on her first day at a residential school. The date for this was chosen because it's the time of year when Indigenous children were removed from their homes and taken to residential schools.

A previous version of the bill to create the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation was stalled in 2019. The office of MP Pablo Rodriguez said at the time that the Conservatives were to blame for the bill not passing.

The bill was then reintroduced in 2020 by Guilbeault based on work done by an NDP MP. He said the day will honour survivors of residential schools, their families and communities.