Manitoba to make Orange Shirt Day a statutory holiday

The Manitoba government introduced legislation Monday to make Sept. 30, or Orange Shirt Day, a statutory holiday in the province. As Alex Karpa reports, some are hoping this meaningful day doesn’t just become another day off.

Orange Shirt Day will soon be a statutory holiday in Manitoba. In one of his first acts as Premier, Wab Kinew has introduced legislation to officially mark September 30 as the Day for Truth and Reconciliation. 

“It was a positive step for the future for Indigenous people, Survivors of Residential School and their families,” said Wayne Mason Jr., Exec. Dir. Wa-Say Healing Centre.

For Residential School Survivor Belinda Vandenbroeck, this news has been a long time coming.

“To have this day as a statutory holiday, I am pretty sure everyone that’s ever gone to residential schools will be very grateful,” said Vandenbroeck.

Back in April, former Premier Heather Stefanson and the Manitoba PCs received backlash after deciding not to make Orange Shirt Day a statutory holiday.

Current NDP Premier Wab Kinew and his party vowed to make this day a stat holiday, following only B.C., P.E.I., New Brunswick, and the three territories. The federal government made Orange Shirt Day a federal holiday in 2021.

“This was an important thing for Survivors to recognize and come together to observe or reflect, to commemorate the history and the legacy of the Indian Residential Schools,” said Mason Jr.

Katherine Strongwind, the director of 60s Scoop Legacy of Canada, says it’s great to see Indigenous people being recognized in the province, by Manitoba’s first First Nations Premier.

“They’ve (NDP government) have only been in government for a short while and have already introduced this bill, so to me, that’s an indication that they do represent and support Indigenous people in Manitoba, and certainly want to honour and acknowledge Residential Schools, Day Schools, 60s Scoop for the Survivors that we are,” said Strongwind.

Premier Kinew added, “I think it’s important that we give all the families a chance to participate and reflect on Residential School Survivors’ experience, the children who never came home, and what we want to do for the future.”

Vandenbroeck says she hopes people don’t just view this as another “day off.”

“It’s about lives that have been lost, that were taken, that were totally went against our ancestral ways.”

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