“A statutory holiday recognizing our Indigenous Peoples would be a fitting tribute as we work toward reconciliation." — Warren (Smokey) Thomas, OPSEU President
Toronto (27 Sept. 2017) — The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE) has endorsed a private member’s bill that would make June 21 — currently National Aboriginal Day in Canada — a statutory holiday in Ontario.
National Indigineous Day, a fitting tribute toward reconciliation
Michael Mantha, New Democratic Party MPP, tabled his bill, Indigenous Day Act – a Path to Truth and Reconciliation, at Queen’s Park on September 21, 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 Warren (Smokey) Thomas, OPSEU President. “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 2 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/NUPGE on this important initiative toward reconciliation.”
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 370,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. — NUPGE