National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Indigenous Peoples have long advocated for the creation of a national day to celebrate the diverse cultures, resilience and contributions of Indigenous Peoples as well as to commemorate the history and legacy of the residential school system.

In recent years, Sept. 30 has been known as Orange Shirt Day. Founded by Phyllis Webstad, Orange Shirt Day is a grassroots campaign that grew out of her own experiences and the experiences of other residential school survivors who attended St. Joseph’s Mission near Williams Lake. It is a day to honour and hold up the healing journeys of residential school survivors and their families, to engage in meaningful discussions about the history and legacy of the residential school system. Orange Shirt Day has become an important opportunity to open up dialogue on anti-racism and anti-bullying.

In June 2021, the Government of Canada passed Bill C-5 to designate Sept. 30 as a federal statutory day to be observed as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. This was done in direct response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action #80, which calls upon the federal government, in collaboration with Indigenous Peoples, “to establish, as a statutory holiday, a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to honour survivors, their families, and communities, and ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process.”

Update on Consultations

In August 2021, the Province of British Columbia advised public sector employers to observe Sept. 30, 2021, as a day in recognition of obligations in most collective agreements. B.C. also made a public commitment to engage Indigenous Peoples on how best to observe the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation moving forward followed by engagement with stakeholders in key business sectors. This process is currently underway.

As that process continues, for this upcoming year, the Province has advised public sector employers, including K-12 public schools, that the same process should be followed as last year –September 30 should again be observed as a statutory day for remembrance this year for those employees who are normally entitled to federal and provincial statutory days. This supports these employers to plan ahead and manage their workplaces and ensure service delivery is maintained where required. As with other statutory days, essential services that people depend on will continue to operate in places where they are required. 

We expect that private sector employers with provisions on statutory days may also want to observe the day as they did last year, while consultations continue on the best way to observe the day moving forward.

Will the Province make September 30th a statutory day?

This decision to establish a statutory day will be informed by the ongoing engagement with residential school survivors, Indigenous partners and communities, followed by an engagement with stakeholders in key business sectors to understand the potential impacts, opportunities and mitigation measures should a new statutory day be created.

When will the Province make a decision?

The timeline for decision will be based on what is heard during the engagement with Indigenous Peoples and the business community. For this year, the Province is advising public sector employers to observe the day in the same way as they did last year. We expect many private sector employers will choose to do the same.

More Information

National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation