When people think about getting another statutory holiday, they may be excited by the prospect of getting a whole day off to go shopping, catch up on their shows, or enjoy those final days of warm weather at the lake.
However, we can’t let National Day for Truth and Reconciliation become just another day off.
Having a designated holiday to commemorate the Day for Truth and Reconciliation is important, and we will continue to call on the provincial government to give all SGEU members—and all workers in Saskatchewan—the opportunity to mark this day in their homes and communities.
In a country founded on cultural genocide, where unmarked graves of children are still being uncovered, it is our responsibility to use this time constructively. The atrocities committed in the residential school system are unspeakable, and the fact that our society was precipitated by such violence is almost impossible to bear. But we must confront it.
The truth is that the colonial ideals that built the residential school system didn’t just disappear when the last federally funded school closed in 1996. They are still alive and well in Canada today, enshrined in our institutions, laws, and culture. They are still felt, too, by Indigenous families and communities working through generations of trauma, and the Survivors who endured that trauma firsthand.
Healing from such profound pain is going to take time. Unpacking and dismantling the systems that caused it is going to take time. But, as the inheritors of Canada’s colonial legacy, it is our responsibility to put in the time it takes to make things better for Survivors, their families and communities—today and every day.
So whether you are at work or at home on this day, make some space for reflection, education, and grief. Find the Calls to Action applicable to you; attend an event, read a book, or watch a film to learn more about the history and legacy of residential schools in Canada; take a moment to honour the Survivors and their families; and remember the children who didn’t come home.
To our Indigenous members, I hope that you are able to take some time today to heal with friends and family. My heart is with you.