N.B. to observe National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on Sept. 30

Click to play video: 'Royal Canadian Mint commemorates National Day for Truth and Reconciliation' Royal Canadian Mint commemorates National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
The Royal Canadian Mint unveiled a new Keepsake ahead of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on Thursday. The face of the keepsake reads "Every Child Matters" surrounded by small footprints facing counter-clockwise. Survivor Eugene Arcand says to him, the feet represent the heartache caused by Residential Schools adding that "when things change, the feet will travel the other way." The Truth and Reconciliation Keepsake helps educate Canadians about the intergenerational impacts of Residential, Day and Boarding schools, and net proceeds from the sale of each keepsake will be donated to the Na-mi-quai-ni-mak Community Support Fund – Sep 22, 2022

New Brunswick has declared Sept. 30 a provincial holiday in recognition of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, a year after it originally declined to do so.

In a release Thursday, the province said the day “honours the children who never returned home from residential schools, as well as survivors, their families and communities.”

“It is important to recognize the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation,” said Premier Blaine Higgs in the release. “On Sept. 30, I encourage New Brunswickers to take a moment to pause and reflect upon what we can do as individuals to advance reconciliation.”

The release said the day will be treated as any other holiday for management and non-union employees in Parts I, II and III of the provincial public service. These include central government departments and agencies, as well as the anglophone and francophone school systems.

The holiday will be optional for private sector businesses, the release noted, and all essential services including health care will continue to be delivered.

The federal government chose Sept. 30 for a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in 2021, following the discovery of children’s remains at the sites of former residential schools in Kamloops, B.C., and other locations.

Last year, New Brunswick said it would not make it a provincial holiday, with Higgs saying “while September 30th will be observed in New Brunswick, it will not be a Statutory Holiday.”

Read more: N.B. removes mention of ‘unceded’ land from motion recognizing Reconciliation Day

The decision was criticized by First Nations chiefs, advocates and labour unions. It also prompted a number of municipalities to create their own holiday to recognize the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

In contrast, the province was quick to declare Sept. 19 as a one-time provincial holiday earlier this month to recognize the passing of Queen Elizabeth II.

In Thursday’s release, Aboriginal Affairs Minister Arlene Dunn said declaring the holiday was an “important step in the reconciliation journey.”

“While this is a day to commemorate the tragic history of residential schools and honour those who did not make it home, as well as their survivors and families, I would encourage all to reflect and be reminded that reconciliation is not just one day of the year,” she said.

The declaration of a holiday is one of the Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

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