Yukon moves to make National Aboriginal Day a holiday

Yukon MLAs have voted in favour of an NDP motion calling for June 21, National Aboriginal Day, to be a holiday in Yukon. The motion was amended to allow for consultation first.

MLAs vote unanimously for holiday, but allow for consultation first

A traditional drum illustrates the importance of chinook salmon to Yukon First Nations' culture and subsistence. (Philippe Morin)

Yukon MLAs are all for another day off in the territory, but they'll first consult with Yukoners about making National Aboriginal Day a holiday.

The opposition NDP introduced a motion to make June 21 a statutory holiday. That would make Yukon only the second jurisdiction to do so, after the N.W.T. 

"We can be leaders. We can signal to the rest of the country that it's time they also step up to the plate," said NDP MLA Kevin Barr in the legislature.
A statuatory holiday on June 21 would 'recognize the contributions of Yukon's indigenous peoples, and support efforts at reconciliation,' said MLA Kevin Barr. (CBC)

"Making this day a stat holiday would recognize the contributions of Yukon's indigenous peoples, and support efforts at reconciliation and understanding between aboriginal and non-aboriginal people," he said.

Barr also said paid holidays make workers happy and "increase social and community bonds."

Don't plan your long weekend yet

MLAs voted unanimously in favour of the NDP motion, but not before amending it to allow for consultation.

Community Services Minister Currie Dixon says that will take time, so it's unlikely that Yukoners will celebrate another long weekend before 2017. 

Still, Dixon says the government likes the idea.

"We are keenly and very enthusiastically supportive of finding new ways to recognize and support First Nations' culture heritage and language," Dixon said.