A day of reflection: Many still unaware of statutory holiday on Sept. 30

The country's newest statutory holiday seems to be largely flying under the radar of many Canadians, even though it's in honour of a dark chapter of our history.

Sept. 30 has been declared the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

According to a news release last month, the "day provides an opportunity for each public servant to recognize and commemorate the legacy of residential schools.

"This may present itself as a day of quiet reflection or participation in a community event."

In Halifax, the Mi'kmaw Native Friendship Centre will host a number of events, largely organized by elder Debbie Eisan.

"We have decided we're going to have a three-day event down on the waterfront," Eisan told CTV news Tuesday.

The centre will mark Orange Shirt Day on Sept. 30 and distribute 500 salmon dinners on Oct. 1, which is Treaty Day.

Oct. 2 will also be marked as Reconciliation day or Family Day, with events geared toward families.

While appreciative of the gesture of a National Statutory Holiday, Eisan acknowledges not everyone will get to take part.

"Holiday" is not the word I would have used. 'Education Day,' maybe …"

"So I think if they're really going to treat this an Education Day, as a day to reconcile and to do the action, to move forward, I think it has to be a blanket thing for everyone," she said.

But, as it stands, it's not.

Out west, B.C. has signed on, but Alberta has not.

Locally, HRM will recognize the holiday, with a spokesperson telling CTV News the municipality's collective agreements incorporate new federal holidays.

Other Maritime municipalities are still debating it.

Provincially, it seems the newly sworn in Houston government hasn't made a decision yet.

"At this time, the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is a federal statutory holiday observed by the federal government and federally-regulated workplaces," said

Labour and Advanced Education spokesperson Khalehla Perrault in an email to CTV News.

"There are many things to consider when creating a new holiday.

"Government will be able to consider the matter fully once the new executive council has been sworn in."

The legislation gives federal employees, and people working in federally regulated workplaces, like banks, the day off, although others are welcome to take it, too.

Generally, though, there will be a cost associated with paying people to stay home, and some small businesses might not be able to handle that right now.

"At least 60 per cent of our members have not returned to pre-COVID revenues at this point. They're facing labour shortage issues in various sectors and industries, at varying levels across Atlantic Canada," said  Louis-Philippe Gauthier, senior director of legislative affairs, Atlantic for the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

"But it would be a consideration. Additional costs at this point would not necessarily be a good thing for small businesses across Atlantic Canada."

Meantime, on the streets of Halifax on Tuesday, a great many people didn't seem aware of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, including former city councillor Sheila Fougere.

"I think it's great.  Nobody can knock another holiday," said Fougere. "I think it's fabulous, but, it's not well-publicized."