No holiday in Nunavut on first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Minister of Human Resources clarified Sept. 30 this year will be a holiday for government employees only

Nunavut’s minister of human resources, David Akeeagok, announced that the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation will not be a statutory holiday until September 30, 2022. (Photo by Dustin Patar)

By Madalyn Howitt

Updated on Friday, Sept. 17 at 4 p.m.

Nunavummiut will have to wait until next year for the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on Sept. 30 to be recognized as a statutory holiday.

Nunavut’s minister of human resources, David Akeeagok, announced Thursday in the legislature that, due to insufficient time to amend existing legislations before Sept. 30, only Government of Nunavut public servants will be given the day off this year.

The federal government passed a law in August to designate Sept. 30 as a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, to commemorate the tragic legacy of residential schools in Canada. But the federal government only has the authority to make it a holiday for federal government employees and people who work in federally regulated industries.

Creating the holiday was one of the calls to action the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada made nearly six years ago.

But Akeeagok said Thursday that for Nunavut to adopt the day as a statutory holiday, the territorial government is required to “practise the principle of Aajiiqatigiinniq — decision-making through discussion and consensus by carrying out consultations with the business community, Inuit organizations, municipalities, and other stakeholders.”

Next steps would require amendments to Nunavut’s Public Service Act, Legislation Act and Labour Standards Act before the statutory holiday could be formally recognized, he added.

There wasn’t enough time to do that between Parliament’s adoption of the law on Aug. 3 and Sept. 30, Akeeagok said.

“Due to the insufficient time for this current government to complete the needed consultations and to amend these legislations, the Government of Nunavut will declare this Sept. 30, 2021, as a holiday for the public service,” Akeeagok said, adding his department hopes Sept. 30 will be a statutory holiday across the territory next year.

The minister said he is “appealing and encouraging all employers within their respective authorities across the territory to be flexible and recognize the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation [by] allowing for employees to observe, reflect, participate in community events, expand their awareness and to support one another.”

Correction: This article has been updated from a previous version to include the date on which Parliament passed the law to create the National Day for Truth and Reconcililation.

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(29) Comments:

  1. Posted by Ummm on

    That is the worst excuse I have ever heard in the history of the GN. THE VERY PEOPLE that are affected don’t get the day to reflect but the southern provinces do….. hmm… GN get your priorities straight!

    • Posted by LMAO on

      You are absolutely right. What a lame excuse.
      As if someone would say: “Nah, let’s go to work instead”!
      This day was specifically designed FOR US!

    • Posted by anonymous on

      Totally agree, time to replace the MLAs! Come on David Akeeagok, there are so many people affected from the residential school system. Lost count how many have ended their lives to suicide and/or murder.

    • Posted by Marlene on

      So true. The families hurting from the atrocious indignities, abuses put upon them and their ancestors , not allowed to commemorate this special day that has finally come, not allowed to be with their indigenous communities, not to be together for support in trying to deal with the loses. HOW VERY DISRESPECTFUL. HOW UNCARING. DUMBFOUNDS ME.

      I am not an aboriginal but my children are half aboriginal . My ex-husband is a survivor of those horrible residential schools. I have many Inuit friends.
      I will be remembering and commemorating along with all those suffering.

  2. Posted by Really? on

    Reconciliation doesn’t and shouldn’t have to wait for elections or new Nunavut elected officials.

  3. Posted by Gullible on

    “Reconciliation” is an activist-driven narrative that is fed to you with your own tax dollars. It shouldn’t be a holiday. It’s Justin T buying your votes at election time. Don’t fall for it.

    • Posted by Ease up on

      You are being way too cynical on this.

  4. Posted by Justice on

    In Ottawa, an Inuk woman was murdered by her own daughter and dumped in a dumpster. After being missing for a month, she was discovered at the landfill. Her daughter will do no prison time. Exactly who is it that you need to reconcile with? Are you sure it’s those evil outsiders who are doing you harm? Yes, yes, I know you like to blame everything on residential schools, but the truth is, most Inuit trauma and abuse comes from right within their own communities. A paid holiday for finger-pointing at outsiders will NOT fix it.

    • Posted by iThink on

      There is a whole lot more to the story of Lennese Kublu than that. Ignoring those details makes your point shallow and ridiculous.

      The definition of reconciliation is to restore friendly relations, it is not about blaming outsiders; so if that is what you are doing you are doing it wrong. A lot like your comment is doing it wrong, for that matter.

  5. Posted by Eva on

    Inuit politicians are just muppets for their white advisors.

    • Posted by Wise up on

      Until Nunavut’s leadership become as educated as their rolls demand, that kind of pattern will likely continue. Get going…

  6. Posted by Someone needs to check a calendar on

    Bill C-5 was given royal assent on *JUNE* 3, 2021, not August, so that’s an incredibly lame excuse. And I call BS on the rest.

    All that would be necessary to change the Labour Standard Act would be adding to the definition of “General holiday”. Nothing else has to be changed.

    The Public Services Act excuse is even dumber. Again, all it would take would be adding to the list in Section 27, but it also says that an order of the minister for a day not already on the list is all that’s needed (until the list is amended).

    As for the Legislation Act, again, all that needs to be done is add the day to the list in the definition of “holiday”. What’s more, the definition of “holiday” includes, and I quote: “a day designated as a general holiday by an Act in force in Nunavut or by order of the Commissioner or proclamation of the Governor General”.

    Don’t have time to amend the Legislation Act? Get Eva Aariak on the phone and ask her to issue an order. I’m pretty sure she’d be open to the idea.

    And they *really* need to consult people to figure out if a new holiday, especially for created such an important reason, requires discussion and consensus? Aajiiqatigiinniq isn’t an excuse to avoid using common freaking sense. What it looks like, ironically, is an excuse for the government, or at least the staff, not to have to do any work in a more urgent manner.

    • Posted by Sounds about right on

      I think you nailed this, the government was basically asleep on this until the last minute, realizing that fact too late they invoked IQ magic to make themselves look less incompetent.

    • Posted by Northern Guy on

      Agree 100%. A halfway competent government would have known that this was coming and prepared everything in advance of the date of assent. But I guess that that would have been asking too much of these incompetents.

    • Posted by Ding Ding Ding on

      This sums it up perfectly. It’s not like the GN found out all of a sudden upon Parliament’s adoption of the law. This has been in the works for a long time, and apparently the GN has not prepared for it at all.
      I also agree that on this particular issue, we don’t need decision making by discussion and consensus, this one should be a no-brainer.

  7. Posted by Furious on

    As a non Inuit, I am very disappointed that this lame government took this road. Shame on them!!!! Who makes these decisions? It’s time for real change. This does NOT look good for the government. The robbers of this country.

  8. Posted by Northern Guy on

    Sooo basically the Minister admitted that the Legislative Assembly is too incompetent to do its job so that that the people that are affected by this the most have the opportunity to reflect and participate, Someone please tell me why we voted for these clowns in the fist place?

  9. Posted by A bricked wall on

    Does this mean schools are closed that day? Sometimes they are government employees and sometimes they are not and I could not tell from this article!

    • Posted by last minute larry on

      good question. I’m sure teachers and students will get clarification on september 29 at 4 pm

  10. Posted by Aputi on


  11. Posted by articrick on

    Does this govt feel no shame in their awful decision to give the holiday to a select few? This has bad taste no matter on how you try and look at it from a govt position. Ouch

  12. Posted by Yay GN on

    I applaud the GN for recognizing this day and giving its staff time to reflect. Hopefully municipalities and businesses will do the same. Amending legislation requires consultation and doesn’t happen overnight.

    • Posted by Northern Guy on

      Amending legislation happens all the time and doesn’t always require consultation. As noted by an earlier poster the amendment to the relevant Act is only three measly lines!! But I guess even that was too hard for the GN braintrust to figure out!

    • Posted by Observer on

      Do you remember the extensive consultation that went on for Bill 74, An Act to Amend the Hamlets Act? How about Bill 66, An Act to Amend Certain Acts Respecting Nunavut Elections? (As a bonus, that act amends three separate acts at one time).

      How about Bill 62, An Act to Amend the Judicature Act? Remember how they went out to seek consultation and consensus according to the principles of Aajiiqatigiinniq? Yeah, neither do I.

  13. Posted by Colin on

    Thanks mainly to failure to deliver decent housing, and effective education and skills training for employment, there are more Indigenous prison inmates today than at peak enrolment in residential schools. Worse, the murder and suicide rates in Canada’s hell-hole prisons far exceeds what it ever could have been in those schools. The misnamed Corrections Service has the world’s highest recidivism rate for Indigenous inmates and it costs millions. By contrast, prisons in Holland and Norway treat inmates as human beings preparing to rejoin society. Where were the useless commissioners Sinclair and Buller on this issue? Why didn’t they advocate for the education and skills training and opportunity for a rewarding carer that they had in their own childhood and youth? They simply don’t care about next generations of their own people.

  14. Posted by Pain In The Groen on

    This was a no-brainer. The GN could have legislated it as a statutoryholiday weeks ago when it was announced. Typical of a spineless beauracracy, at least the GN is taking the day off.

    • Posted by Ra Ra Rasputin on

      Agree, but is the bureaucracy the problem, or the executive?

      • Posted by Northern Guy on

        Plenty of blame to go around. Cabinet and the MLAs are to blame for not making this a legislative priority and the GN’s senior bureaucrats are to blame for not preparing ahead of time for the eventuality.

  15. Posted by Christine on

    How not surprising that once again, it is those in government who are afforded the privilege of holiday that comes with this first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Maybe it is one day that the people who influenced the suffering of so very many should actually have to work, and instead of allowing paid holiday and the huge dollars across the nation for such an expense, this could be put towards actually benefiting the peoples who have suffered so very much, for so very long. You have got to be kidding, Government of Canada.

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