Until The House Of Commons Has To Respond To The Petition On Making National Indigenous Peoples Day A Stat Holiday.
Update: Since publishing this piece, MP Georgina Jolibois representing the riding of Desnethe-Missinippi-Churchill River in Saskatchewan has put forth a Private Member's Bill proposing to make National Indigenous Peoples' Day a national, statutory holiday. Her bill had its first reading in the House of Commons on Oct. 24, 2017 and is currently moving forward. More information on this development can be found here.
We were very excited to see the Prime Minister announced yesterday that National Aboriginal Day will be renamed National Indigenous Peoples Day in 2018. We believe that language is an important step in recognizing Indigenous Peoples in Canada as sovereign and also a crucial factor in Reconciliation. To find out more about why “Indigenous Peoples” is a better option that “Aboriginal”, check out our blog.
While excited about the name change, we at Animikii were waiting for another announcement that did not come. Last year, we released an article and created a petition to submit to the House of Commons about making National Indigenous Peoples Day a statutory holiday.
Our goal was to get 500 people to sign the petition. Instead, we received 806 from people across Canada - in every province and territory - who believe that National Indigenous Peoples Day is worthy of becoming a stat holiday. The petition was championed by MP Robert-Falcon Ouelette, who presented it to the House of Commons on May 18, 2017.
"Having a statutory holiday for Indigenous Peoples Day is a way of educating Canadians, it's an opportunity to listen and learn. I think we've got to really interact more together and learn from each other because there's just not enough integration either way. We still live in solitudes." — Chief Perry Bellegarde
In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada stressed the importance of reconciling Indigenous-settler relations in Canada. The TRC’s Calls to Action also calls for National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
“We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, to establish, as a statutory holiday, a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to honour Survivors, their families, and communities, and ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process.” — TRC Call to Action #80
The Yukon and the Northwest Territories have already made National Indigenous Peoples Day a stat holiday, and we hope that soon the rest of the country will follow suit. In addition to MP Robert-Falcon Ouelette and the petition, MP Georgina Jolibois tabled a private member’s bill on June 15 proposing that National Indigenous Peoples Day would become a statutory holiday across the country.
In summary, here is what has happened in the last year:
- October 13, 2016 — An e-petition is submitted to the Clerk of Petitions, with the first five signatures coming from Animikii team members.
- October 17, 2016 — MP Robert-Falcon Ouelette champions the petition, promising to present it to the House of Commons.
- October 31, 2016 — The petition receives the minimum amount of signatures with support from every province and territory and will now be presented in the House of Commons.May 8, 2017 — Yukon makes National Indigenous Peoples Day a statutory holiday.
- May 8, 2017 — Yukon makes National Indigenous Peoples Day a statutory holiday.
- May 18, 2017 — MP Robert-Falcon Ouelette presents the petition to the House of Commons. They now have 45 days to respond officially.June 15, 2017 — MP Georgina Jolibois tables a private member’s bill to make this June 21 a national statutory holiday.
- June 15, 2017 — MP Georgina Jolibois tables a private member’s bill to make this June 21 a national statutory holiday.June 21, 2017 — PM Trudeau announces name change to “National Indigenous Peoples Day”
- June 21, 2017 — PM Trudeau announces name change to “National Indigenous Peoples Day”June 21, 2017 — AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde’s statement and support for it to be a stat holiday.
- June 21, 2017 — AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde’s statement and support for it to be a stat holiday.July 2, 2017 — House of Commons deadline to respond to petition!
- July 2, 2017 — House of Commons deadline to respond to petition!
The purpose of the campaign is not to have another day off work, nor to overshadow real issues that many Indigenous people in Canada face today. However, by making National Indigenous Peoples Day a statutory holiday, it encourages all Canadians to go out into their Communities and learn more about the Indigenous Peoples who were here first and are still here.
Not to mention that a national holiday means national respect, action, and understanding. Something that has been denied to Indigenous Peoples in Canada for far too long.