Toronto – The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) has endorsed a private member’s bill that would make June 21 – currently National Indigenous Day in Canada – a statutory holiday in Ontario.
New Democratic Party MPP Michael Mantha tabled his bill – titled the Indigenous Day Act – a Path to Truth and Reconciliation – at Queen’s Park this afternoon at the same time as a Pow Wow attended by hundreds of Indigenous activists and their allies was taking place on the south lawn of the legislative grounds.
“A statutory holiday recognizing our Indigenous peoples would be a fitting tribute as we work toward reconciliation,” said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “I’m proud of the role my union’s Indigenous Circle played with other Indigenous activists in having Mr. Mantha draft his private member’s bill. I urge the Liberal and Progressive Conservative parties to support it every step of the way until it becomes the law in our province.”
The designation of a special day of recognition would be in accordance with Recommendation 80 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final report, which stated, in part, that the federal government should, “in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, establish, as a statutory holiday, a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.” The Northwest Territories and Yukon are the only two
Canadian jurisdictions which have already declared June 21 a statutory holiday.
“It’s time we did this,” said Linda Broer, chair of the OPSEU Indigenous Circle’s “June 21 Campaign Circle of Reconciliation,” which, with other Indigenous activists, organized today’s Pow Wow. “Rather than a typical labour-type rally, we chose a Pow Wow as the best way to introduce the bill and to celebrate Indigenous culture and traditions which are at the heart of the legislation.”
R. Stacey Laforme, Chief of the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation, said his community was “happy to partner with OPSEU on this important initiative toward reconciliation.”
For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931; Linda Broer, 519-639-4360