More major N.B. cities choosing to observe National Day of Truth and Reconciliation even though province is not
More New Brunswick cities and institutions are splitting away from the provincial government's decision to not recognize National Day of Truth and Reconciliation as a statutory holiday.
In June, the federal government passed legislation to designate Sept. 30 a federal statutory holiday - one of the 94 calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
To date, the cities of Saint John, Moncton and Miramichi have each said they will observe the holiday.
In a release on their website, the City of Saint John provided a list of the services that will be closed and says flags at City Hall will be lowered to half-mast in honour of the day.
"We're the closest government to the people. I think council has made the right decision, with staff recommendation, that we recognize the day," said Donna Reardon, mayor of Saint John. "We work on shoestring budgets, so I understand for employers as well. We're asking all employers to consider it."
The City of Moncton made a similar announcement, saying all non-essential services will be closed on the holiday.
"The painful legacy of residential schools has been felt throughout our country. I encourage our employees and residents to take the time on September 30 to reflect, listen and learn from Indigenous leaders, elders and artists and to honour those impacted by the tragic history of our Indigenous communities," stated Mayor Dawn Arnold in a news release on the city's website.
Arnold goes on to add that the journey of reconciliation is a long one and observing the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation is an important step in the process.
"The City of Moncton is committed to building a relationship through dialogue with the Indigenous community to ensure that we are an inclusive community that respects their history, traditions and culture," read the release.
Adam Lordon, the mayor of Miramichi, told CTV News last week his city also plans to participate in the statutory holiday, allowing municipal employees to take part in the day.
"We were in a position, our collective agreements with our unions allowed for us to do this," said Lordon.
"As a council we felt it was very important to participate in the day."
Graydon Nicholas, the endowed chair in Native Studies and chancellor at St. Thomas University in Fredericton, says he would like to see everyone on the same page.
He adds STU plans to recognize Sept. 30 as a statutory holiday.
"The more people that would stand up and support that and celebrate that with our people, the better off our country will be," he explained.
Nicholas also believes there is not enough effort on the federal government's side to educate Canadians about the importance of this national holiday.
The town of Sussex shared on social media that they too will observe National Day of Truth and Reconciliation – allowing town employees to recognize and reflect.
The post also encourages everyone to take a moment on Sept. 30 to honour survivors, and to think about what each one of us can do to advance reconciliation.
In late August, New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs decided against making the day a provincial holiday.
The news means all provincial services in New Brunswick, including schools, will be business as usual on Sept. 30, while private companies will independently decide whether to stay open or closed for the day.
Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island both announced they will be recognizing National Day of Truth and Reconciliation as a statutory holiday.