The territorial government says it expects to decide whether to adopt the newly created federal truth and reconciliation statutory holiday by the end of August.
A National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, on September 30, was created when Bill C-5 received royal assent in June. The holiday’s creation is a response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 80th call to action, which urged the federal government to institute such a day.
The federal government says a statutory holiday on September 30 “seeks to honour First Nations, Inuit, and Métis survivors and their families and communities, and to ensure that public commemoration of their history and the legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process.”
At the moment, employees of the federal public service and those in federally regulated private-sector jobs – like many roles in aviation and banking – will each receive a statutory National Day for Truth and Reconciliation holiday for the first time on September 30 this year.
However, the holiday does not automatically apply to territorially regulated sectors or territorial government employees.
Asked about the holiday on Tuesday, a spokesperson for the territory’s Department of Finance, which holds responsibility for human resources, said the territorial government expected to make a decision soon.
“The GNWT is currently reviewing the federal government’s decision to establish a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation,” the spokesperson wrote in a brief emailed statement.
“A decision on how the GNWT will move forward is expected later this month.”
The NWT’s Employment Standards Act currently lists 10 statutory holidays:
- New Year’s Day
- Good Friday
- Victoria Day
- National Aboriginal Day
- Canada Day
- the first Monday in August
- Labour Day
- Thanksgiving Day
- Remembrance Day
- Christmas Day
Employers in the NWT are generally obliged to recognize holidays enshrined in the act.
An update to that legislation is, however, unlikely before the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation takes place. The NWT’s MLAs, who would be required to review and pass any such update, do not reconvene in the legislature to consider such matters until mid-October.