FREDERICTON – Indigenous leaders in New Brunswick are expressing deep disappointment at the news that the Higgs government will not recognize National Truth and Reconciliation Day as a provincial holiday.
The new federal holiday of September 30 is set aside to recognize the horrific legacy of the country’s residential schools, but it is up to each province to decide whether it will be a day off.
New Brunswick has given no reason for choosing not to observe this day.
“The residential schools issue is a dark story, a dark past that we haven’t heard about for the past 10 years,” said St. Mary’s First Nation Chief Allan Polchies, All Canadians On This File particular.
Terry Richardson, Chief of the Pabineau First Nation, also said he was disappointed and disheartened by the New Brunswick government’s decision.
“In the sense that, for me, it’s kind of a step back in the word reconciliation,” he said.
CTV News has requested an interview with Arlene Dunn, the provincial Minister of Indigenous Affairs, and was told she was not available today, but Premier Blaine Higgs made a statement.
“We are committed to identifying ways to recognize September 30 as a day of recognition,” the statement said.
“Our government encourages everyone to use this day to reflect on what each of us can do as individuals to advance reconciliation and help create a better and more inclusive province.
However, Chief Ross Perley of the Tobique First Nation says this day is an important part of healing.
“By not recognizing a national day for us to reflect is part of the healing process for Indigenous peoples, it is up to provincial and federal leaders to recognize it. “
Even though the province does not recognize the day, Chief Richardson encourages New Brunswickers to mark the day.
“Although it is a moment of silence to remember those children who were found and who were lost, and to remember that each of them had a family associated with them.”