Nunavut eyes truth and reconciliation day holiday

Justice Department consults businesses and other organizations on effect a new holiday would have

Jack Anawak leads Iqalummiut to Iqaluit Square on the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on Sept. 30, 2021. (File photo by David Lochead)

By Nunatsiaq News

Nunavut’s Justice Department is consulting businesses and other organizations on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, in a step towards making the day a statutory holiday in the territory.

The department is “looking to introduce new legislation” to make Sept. 30 an official holiday in Nunavut, according to a news release issued Tuesday.

It’s asking businesses and organizations if they would support truth and reconciliation day as a statutory holiday and what negative financial or other effects they might face as a result of adding a new holiday to the calendar.

Last August, the federal government responded to a six-year-old call to action by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and created the first-ever National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Designating the day was meant to give people a day to remember the history of Canada’s residential schools program and to reflect on its legacy.

That move gave federal public service employees a paid holiday but left each province and territory to decide for itself whether the new day would be a paid holiday for other workers.

In September, Nunavut’s then-minister of human resources, David Akeeagok, said the government didn’t have enough time before Sept. 30 to make it a holiday for everyone.

Instead, only Nunavut government workers were given the day off.

Akeeagok said making a decision like that had to use Aajiqatigiinniq, which is making decisions with input from other stakeholders.

The deadline to send feedback on the Justice Department’s consultation is April 8.

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