Truth and Reconciliation Day to be recognized as a holiday, for some

Benches at Rotary Park near the Dettah Ice Road entrance in Yellowknife commemorate Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and 2SLGBTQQIPA+ people. Meaghan Brackenbury/Cabin Radio
Benches at Rotary Park near the Dettah Ice Road entrance in Yellowknife commemorate Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and 2SLGBTQ+ people. Meaghan Brackenbury/Cabin Radio

Territorial government employees in the NWT will be observing the newly established National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on September 30 with a statutory holiday.

The territorial government said in a news release on Thursday that similar to federal government employees, territorial employees will also receive a paid holiday to observe the significance of the day.

The Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) said it will be observed annually from this year onward.

“Following the federal government’s lead, the GNWT established this holiday to provide public servants, including teachers, the opportunity to recommit to understanding the harmful legacy of residential schools in the Northwest Territories and to encourage them to take time to reflect and consider what they can do to advance reconciliation,” the GNWT said.



However, the holiday does not automatically apply to all employees across the NWT.

The NWT Employment Standards Act hasn’t yet been amended to introduce the new National Day for Truth and Reconciliation as a territory-wide statutory holiday, so those who work under that legislation “are not entitled to it.”

There are currently 10 statutory holidays listed under the Employment Standards Act, the September 30 holiday would be the eleventh.

If it is adopted into the legislation, employers in the NWT are generally obliged to recognize holidays enshrined in the act. It appears unlikely that it will be included in the legislation before the holiday takes place.



“Engagement on potential changes to the Employment Standards Act will be undertaken over the coming months to ensure the holiday is observed in the NWT in a manner that considers and respects the views of Indigenous governments, Indigenous organizations, community governments, labour stakeholders, and private industry,” the territorial government said.

Bill C-5 – the legislation that created the new day for truth and reconciliation – received royal assent in June to officialize the new holiday.

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 has said the 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.”