Indigenous leaders disappointed with New Brunswick's decision to pass on newest national holiday

Indigenous leaders in New Brunswick are expressing their deep disappointment with word the Higgs' government will not be recognizing the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation as a provincial holiday.

The new federal statutory holiday on Sept. 30 is set aside to recognize the horrific legacy of the country's residential schools, but it's up to each province to decide whether it will be a day off.

New Brunswick has not given a reason for choosing not to observe this day.

"The residential school file is a dark history, a dark past that we haven't heard of until the last 10 years," says St. Mary's First Nation chief Allan Polchies, "and getting educated on this, and it's important that we educate all Canadians on this particular file."

Terry Richardson, the Chief of the Pabineau First Nation, says that he, too, is disappointed and discouraged with the decision from the New Brunswick government.

"In the sense that, it's sort of, for me, a step back in the word reconciliation," he said.

CTV News did reach out for an interview with Arlene Dunn, the provincial minister of Aboriginal Affairs, and were told she was not available today, however premier Blaine Higgs put out a statement.

"We are committed to identifying ways to acknowledge Sept. 30 as a day of recognition," the statement reads.

"Our government encourages everyone to use this day as an opportunity to consider what each of us can do as individuals to advance reconciliation and help to create a better, more inclusive province."

However, Chief Ross Perley of the Tobique First Nation says having this day is an important part of healing.

"By not recognizing a national day where we can reflect, that's part of the healing process for Indigenous people, is for provincial and federal leaders to acknowledge."

Even though the province is not recognizing the day, chief Richardson is encouraging New Brunswickers to mark the day.

"Even if it's a moment of silence to remember those children now being found that were lost, and remembering that each one of them had a family associated with them."