September 30, 2021: National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

The implementation of a federal statutory holiday to observe September 30 as a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in Canada on an annual basis is an important part of the reconciliation process. In June of this year, the federal government passed legislation to establish a new statutory holiday in response to Call to Action number 80 of The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. The date also coincides with Orange Shirt Day – a day which was first observed during the St. Joseph Mission Residential School Commemoration Project in Williams Lake, British Columbia, and an annual day that has grown into a grassroots movement inspired by the story of residential school survivor Phyllis Jack Webstad. As a young girl, Phyllis was given a new orange shirt by her grandmother before being taken to a B.C. residential school. The shirt was confiscated and destroyed by her teacher on the first day of class. The destruction of Phyllis’ shirt has come to symbolize the colonial goal of residential schools to assimilate Indigenous peoples.

*Note: This picture was taken when no public health orders or restrictions were in effect.* CUPE National President, Mark Hancock (Centre), with CUPE Saskatchewan’s Executive Board and National Staff Representatives.

CUPE Saskatchewan is calling for the provincial government to recognize September 30, the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, as a statutory holiday. While September 30 is a statutory holiday for federally regulated sectors across Canada, the Government of Saskatchewan has fallen far short of extending the full recognition as a paid day off for all to take part in a day of public commemoration. Only those with collective bargaining agreement language recognizing federal statutory holidays, in addition to provincial statutory holidays, will have the day recognized as a statutory holiday in sectors under provincial regulation.

The recovery of mass and unmarked graves sites at or near the locations of former residential schools continue to be a grim reminder of the painful legacy of violence through colonialism faced by Indigenous Peoples.

On September 30, let’s join together to commemorate, to honour, to build awareness, to demand justice and action to end systemic racism and to end the ongoing harms of colonialism, and to walk the long journey of reconciliation through committed and genuine action.

All CUPE members are encouraged to take part in events of commemoration safely, to take action, and to read the many resources and links to further truth and reconciliation in our union, our workplaces and communities.

Published by the Division Office /n.m. Cope 342


Watch the video of the Witness Blanket at the Canadian Museum of Human Rights in Winnipeg:












Published by the Division Office /n.m. Cope 342