As the federal government explores a new holiday to acknowledge the dark history of the residential school system, a bank holiday in the province may not be automatic.
Premier Scott Moe says his government will have discussions on Ottawa’s move, wanting to take into account the cost on businesses.
“We’ll have to have those discussions on whether or not we implement it as a full statutory here in the province. What the cost to employers would be, understanding the government of Saskatchewan is a large employer here in the province?” Moe stated.
The federal government is consulting with Indigenous leaders on the creation of the holiday, as it would fullfil one of the 94 Calls to Action outlined in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Final Report.
Saskatchewan MP Georgina Jolibios has a bill before Parliament to mark June 21, National Indigenous Peoples Day a statutory holiday. She is calling on the Prime Minister to drop his proposal and support her legislation. “He [Prime Minister Trudeau] repeatedly states in working relationships with Indigenous Peoples and working together. Here he has an opportunity and he didn’t do that. He created something of his own by using someone’s idea. I don’t believe that’s acceptable,” Jolibois explained.
Moe says he recognizes Ottawa’s approach. “I do understand the federal government’s position that they’ve made this announcement,” said Moe.
“It was disappointing to hear Premier Moe not commit to recognizing the new proposed statutory holiday. For him to say that this would be an issue of cost fails to recognize the significant ongoing cost to our province of residential schools. Increased health problems, higher levels of poverty, over-representation of Indigenous children in foster care, these are the real ongoing costs of the residential school legacy. Taking the time to recognize this dark period of our history is a key step to remembering our past and ensuring we don’t see similar problems in the future,” said NDP leader Ryan Meili in a statement.
(PHOTO: Cree students at All Saints Indian Residential School, Lac La Ronge, Saskatchewan. Photo courtesy of Canadian Geographic.)