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N.W.T. makes National Day for Truth and Reconciliation a stat holiday

This year Sept. 30 will be a statutory holiday in the Northwest Territories, extending the day off to all workers in the territory.

'Establishing this statutory holiday is a significant step towards reconciliation' in N.W.T., says minister

A monument in Fort Providence, N.W.T., pictured in 2021, memorializes around 300 people buried there, including 161 children who were brought to the residential school there from up and down the Mackenzie River Valley. (Kate Kyle/CBC)

The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation marked on Sept. 30 is now officially a statutory holiday in the Northwest Territories.

The territory is just one of just a few jurisdictions in Canada to officially make it so.

The day is meant to honour children lost to residential schools, as well as the survivors, their families and communities.

P.E.I. also recognizes the day as a stat holiday, along with Newfoundland and Labrador, though its government website says consultations are still ongoing.

Last year, the federal government passed legislation to recognize the day as a federal statutory holiday, making it a paid day off for federal workers and employees in federally regulated workplaces. However, it left it up to the territories and provinces to decide if the day would be a statutory holiday locally.

R.J. Simpson, the territory's minister of Education, Culture and Employment, called the new holiday 'a significant step towards reconciliation in the Northwest Territories.' (Mario De Ciccio/Radio-Canada)

Some jurisdictions, including the N.W.T. went on to observe the day, but did not make it into a statutory holiday at the time. In a news release issued on Wednesday, the territory said there wasn't time to add the change to its employment legislation last year, so it instead only amended the Public Service Holiday Order under the Public Service Act to allow employees to observe the day.

However, this year, with Bill 47 now in force as of June 3 making Sept. 30 a statutory holiday in the Northwest Territories' Employment Standards Act, the day off will be extended to all workers in the N.W.T.

"Establishing this statutory holiday is a significant step towards reconciliation in the Northwest Territories," said R.J. Simpson, minister of Education, Culture and Employment, in a statement. 

He said the day is a "time to reflect and remember."

"It's a day to acknowledge the territory's colonial history and the legacy of residential schools. While we commemorate survivors, families and communities, September 30 can also be a day of hope."

Provinces including Alberta, New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario and Saskatchewan said last year they will not be recognizing the day provincially, though some cities within those provinces, including Edmonton, recognized the day last year.

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