Aug 16, 2021

Bulletin -September 30th – a day of Truth and Reconciliation

The federal government is recognizing September 30th as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, making it a federal statutory holiday.

The BC Government says it recognizes the importance of reflecting on the legacy of residential schools and honouring Survivors of the residential school system. The province has advised all provincial public sector employers that they should recognize the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation as a holiday for 2021 - on a without prejudice basis - for all employees who are normally entitled to provincial and federal holidays.

It is important to note that the recognition of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation this year is an interim measure while the province begins engaging with Indigenous peoples, as well as labour and business communities, to determine the most appropriate way to commemorate this day going forward.

BCPSEA is advising school districts of government’s decision in this matter, and districts will be notifying employees of the upcoming holiday – September 30, 2021.

Why September 30th?

Since 2013, September 30th has been commemorated as “Orange Shirt Day”, inspired by the story of residential school Survivor Phyllis Jack Webstad.

As a young girl, Phyllis was gifted a new orange shirt by her grandmother before she was taken to a B.C. residential school. The shirt was confiscated and destroyed by her teacher on the first day of classes.

The story has come to symbolize the colonial assimilation goals of the residential school system.

CUPE members are encouraged to honour the Survivors of the residential school system by wearing orange shirts on September 30th.

Calls to Action

Establishing a national holiday commemorating the legacy of residential schools was one of 94 Calls to Action made in the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).

On this September 30th, please take the time to reflect on the Calls to Action and the truths contained in the TRC final report. The Calls to Action and the complete TRC report is available online from the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.

CUPE’s Walking the talk: A practical guide to reconciliation for CUPE locals is also available online with more helpful information on engaging in meaningful reconciliation. Please share these important resources with your membership so we can all do our part in reconciliation and to support Indigenous communities on their path to healing.

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COPE 491