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Incomplete consultation after Manitoba’s delay in treating Orange Shirt Day as a statistical holiday

Incomplete consultation after Manitoba’s delay in treating Orange Shirt Day as a statistical holiday


Manitoba’s labor minister said making National Truth and Reconciliation Day a statutory holiday this year would have ignored the voices of some indigenous people he consulted.

On Thursday, the Conservative government defended its decision to observe the day when schools and non-essential government services and offices were closed without treating it as a public holiday.

“When I started looking at the drafting of the legislation last year, I had questions about what that day would look like,” Labor Minister Reg Helwer told reporters.

“It’s not appropriate that I’m going to answer this question without consultation, then we’re just perpetuating the colonialism that this day deals with.”

The day, also known as Orange Shirt Day, was created in honor of the experience of Phyllis Webstad, who was robbed of her grandmother’s gift of clothing on Webstad’s first day at a residential school.

Labor Minister Reg Helwer said the PC government is still committed to making September 30 a statutory holiday, but it needs more time. (Randall McKenzie/CBC)

The federal government recently made the day, which falls on September 30, a statutory holiday for its workers and federally regulated workplaces. Prince Edward Island, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut have followed suit.

Manitoba still plans to make the day a legal holiday, but not this year. Helwer said the government will draft legislation soon.

In the Manitoba legislature Thursday, NDP Leader Wab Kinews said his party wanted to give the government a surplus vote on a private member’s bill introduced earlier this year to make it Shirt Day Orange a statutory holiday, but the PC government voted against it. .

Kinew said the gesture made him question the government’s sincerity about reconciliation.

The Prime Minister questioned about wearing the orange shirt

“I want to know why the prime minister wore an orange shirt when she voted against making Orange Shirt Day a provincial statutory holiday earlier today,” he told the legislature as part of his member’s statement.

“I say this without malice, aggression, or even partisanship,” Kinew said. “Apparently the prime minister has a desire to honor residential school survivors, which is why she chose to wear an orange shirt.”

Kinew doesn’t think the government should wait. He said there is a consensus among business leaders and community activists to make the day a legal holiday, and it is a call to action by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

But Helwer said there is no agreement on what the day should look like. Some legal holidays are treated differently in terms of what businesses can open and what their hours can be.

Kinew would not answer what he would like to see for Orange Shirt Day as a legal holiday.




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