Tri-City civic and school workers will observe the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on Sept. 30, shuttering city halls and recreation centres for the day.
The paid time off is supposed to encourage employees to reflect on reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and follows an act of parliament, which made the day a federal holiday.
It means Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam and Port Moody city halls and recreation facilities will be closed, with a few exceptions.
Coquitlam will keep the Poirier Sport and Leisure Complex open, as it does for most statutory holidays, and outdoor pools will be open. (Typically, the City Centre Aquatic Complex would be open, but it’s currently closed for annual maintenance. More information here)
Provincial government offices will also be closed, or have reduced office hours while federal offices will also be shut for the day.
Schools in Coquitlam’s district (SD43) will also be closed with students and teachers returning to class the following day, Oct. 1.
SD43 has already informed parents via a letter of the new statutory holiday.
SCHOOLS WILL USE TIME TO FOCUS ON CANADIAN AND INDIGENOUS HISTORY
SD43 Superintendent and CEO Patricia Gartland stated the day is to "commemorate and honour those who were lost, the Indigenous survivors and the families and communities who continue to grieve as a result of the residential school system in Canada."
There is no requirement from the Ministry of Education to make up the day with another instruction day, confirmed SD43 spokesperson Ken Hoff.
Hoff said schools typically recognize Orange Shirt Day in September and will “use this time to focus on relevant topics in Canadian and Indigenous history.”
However, for most non-government employees, Thursday, Sept. 30 will be a regular work day.
In a news release, the City of Port Coquitlam stated its participation in the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is not its only initiative. It also established its Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Roundtable last year.
Meanwhile, Coquitlam noted it “has strengthened its focus on promoting diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in the city’s work and in the community at large.”
Port Moody city manager Tim Savoie said the city will consider how to mark the day in future years, in line with the provincial government’s announcement Aug. 3 to work with Indigenous leaders, organizations and communities for observances going forward.
Last February, PoMo city councillors made their own commitment to reconciliation, including a blanket exercise — or interactive educational program — for themselves and city staff to gain a better understanding of Indigenous history and the First Nations experience. It would recur for subsequent incoming councils. As well, a report recommended the city adopt the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a framework for reconciliation.
COMMUNITY EDUCATION RESOURCES PROVIDED
The following resources were provided by the cities:
For Coquitlam residents:
- Coquitlam Public Library – Reading List and Emotional Support Resources
- •kʷikʷəƛ̓əm (Kwikwetlem) First Nation – Information, Education, Programs and Services, and Resources
- BC Alliance for Arts & Culture – Residential Schools & Indigenous Resilience
- Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada - Education
- Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada - Exhibits
- Orange Shirt Society - Resources and Ideas
For Port Coquitlam residents:
- Resources from the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, a place of learning and dialogue about residential schools.
- Information about Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada about residential schools that concluded in 2015.
- Information about the history of the kʷikʷəƛ̓əm (Kwikwetlem First Nation) in this area.
Port Coquitlam and Coquitlam residents are reminded that the holiday does not affect scheduled waste and recycling pickup.
SPECIAL DAY TO HONOUR CHILDREN OF RESIDENTIAL SCHOOL SYSTEM
Sept. 30 was formerly known as Orange Shirt Day, so called because of the residential school experiences of the campaign’s founder, Phyllis Webstad.
“It is a day when we honour the children who suffered in the residential school system, and many residential school survivors and supporters have advocated for this to become a national day of commemoration, to respond to one of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action,” stated Murray Rankin, minister of indigenous relations and reconciliation and Selina Robinson, minister of finance and Coquitlam-Maillardville MLA, in a news release.
The national holiday was recommended by the 2015 report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission as a way to commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools.
- with a file by Mario Bartel, Tri-City News