While the federal government is declaring Sept. 30 a national statutory holiday, the Village of Cumberland wants it to be more than a day off.
The end of September has been set aside as a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to honour Indigenous peoples, their stories and the tragic legacy of residential schools.
“It’ll be held Sept. 30 of every year,” chief financial officer and deputy chief administrative officer Michelle Mason told Cumberland council.
As the staff report says, the day only applies to federal government employees and there is no indication yet whether a provincial holiday will be established.
At the meeting on June 28, council members offered their support for the declaration of the day, but they expressed opinions that this is just the start of a conversation about the legacy.
“It’s a small step for the federal government,” Coun. Jesse Ketler said.
The village, Mason said, will recognize the statutory holiday as is recognized in its collective agreement with staff. As with other statutory holidays, all municipal facilities, such as the village office, the recreation centre and fire fall, will be closed to the public.
In light of the importance of the day, she also said staff will focus on the reason for it.
“We will ensure that the day is forefront in the employees’ minds prior to them having this statutory day … to recognize it,” she said.
Ketler said she hoped that by Sept. 30, the country will see more action when it comes to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendations.
Coun. Vickey Brown agreed, saying the federal government was offering a vacation day but agreed it was a small step.
“I wish it were a day of action,” she said. “I feel like it’s a show, and I would much rather see real movement.”
She also called for the village to undertake some education and awareness around the issue.
Mayor Leslie Baird agreed, saying the recognition has been needed for many years.
“It’s a day of remembrance,” she said. “I think it’ll do justice and start the process.”