Georgina Jolibois. Photo courtesy of

Desnethé-Missinippi-Churchill River MP Georgina Jolibois has introduced a private member’s bill in the House of Commons, calling for National Aboriginal Day to be declared a statutory holiday.

National Aboriginal Day was first established in 1996 to celebrate the heritage and contributions of Indigenous people across the country. It is celebrated as a statutory holiday for First Nations organizations such as band offices, schools and tribal councils, but it has never been recognized in the private sector.

Jolibois says that since June is National Aboriginal History Month, it makes sense to have a national statutory holiday to formally recognize Aboriginal, Inuit and Metis people as founding members of Canada.

“It’s being received well from the Grand Chiefs as well as other Inuit, Metis and First Nation groups across the country,” said Jolibois. “I hope to get support from other members of parliament.”

The northern Saskatchewan MP says there have been previous discussions to have the day declared as a national statutory holiday, and says the time now makes sense.

“Current scholars, leaders and politicians recognize the historical contributions our people have made, why not have a statutory holiday to celebrate that?” says Jolibois. “So why not now? The opportunity is terrific.”

Jolibois says she hopes the bill will be debated in the House of Commons in the next six months. She says that will give her time to garner more support for the proposed bill.

Liberal MP Robert-Falcon Ouellette introduced a petition in the house earlier this year calling for the same change.