Queen’s not recognizing National Day for Truth & Reconciliation as statutory holiday

Moment of silence will be held at 2:15 p.m. on Sept. 30

Chancellor Sinclair endorsed the University’s 2021 plan to commemorate the Federal Holiday.

This year marks the first National Day of Truth and Reconciliation, which will take place Sept. 30. The Government of Canada announced in June that it would recognize the day as a statutory federal holiday.

Sept. 30 was previously known as Orange Shirt Day, an Indigenous-led grassroots commemorative day that honours the children who survived Residential Schools as well as those whose lives were lost. 

While not recognized provincially in Ontario as a statutory holiday, the Public Service Alliance of Canada Local 901 (PSAC 901) has launched a petition for Queen’s to recognize the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation as such.

“Queen’s as a provincially regulated institution has the ability to mark its own statutory holidays,” the petition stated.

“We ask that Queen’s designate [Sept.30], the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, a statutory holiday for the university.”

“Following many conversations and given the timing of the government’s announcement surrounding the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation Day [sic], Queen’s university could not accommodate a cancellation of classes this year,” Julie Brown, media relations officer, wrote in an email to The Journal on behalf of Queen’s.

“However, we will be marking the day with events and reflection and are encouraging flexibility within our community, so people are able to participate in activities throughout the day.”

On Sept. 30, there will be a moment of silence at 2:15 p.m. to honour the 215 children who were found on the grounds of Kamloops Residential school. 

Read more: Office of Indigenous Initiative prepares for National Day of Truth & Reconciliation

Brown added that Chancellor Murray Sinclair has endorsed the University’s plan, with a commitment to rethinking commemoration of the Federal holiday in future years.

With files from Asbah Ahmad.

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