New federal holiday for residential school survivors expected

OTTAWA – Ottawa has announced plans to create a new statutory holiday in recognition of residential school survivors.

Indigenous groups are working with the federal government to choose the day – which has not been finalized.

Reports that the existing Indigenous People’s Day on June 21 or Orange Shirt Day on September 30 are being considered.

There has been pressure in Ottawa by MPs, the AFN and the TRC to make June 21 a federally recognized statutory holiday.

Orange Shirt Day has emerged out of survivor accounts being brought to the forefront of indigenous storytelling. It recognizes the experience of one survivor, Phyllis Webstad — who remembered as a child staff of a residential school took away a beloved orange shirt on the first day of residential school.

Ottawa now only recognizes five holidays nationally: Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, Canada Day, Labour Day, and Good Friday. Additional holidays very between provinces.

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