UFCW 1518 is calling on the operator of FreshCo Kamloops to grant store workers a statutory holiday on September 30 in recognition of Truth and Reconciliation Day.
In May 2021, the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation confirmed that they had uncovered the remains of 215 children buried at the former Kamloops Residential “School.” Many more unmarked graves have since been confirmed at former residential “school” sites around the country.
In recognition of the dark legacy of the residential “school” system, the federal government created a Truth and Reconciliation Day federal holiday on September 30. Federal government employees and federally regulated workers, like postal carriers, will have the day off or statutory holiday pay in lieu. The BC government followed suit and granted the statutory holiday to provincial government workers and public servants. The day is an opportunity to reflect on the impacts of settler colonialism on Indigenous, First Nations, and Métis people, to mourn those who died at residential “schools,” and to re-commit to truth and reconciliation moving forward.
The federal and provincial government have both fallen short of declaring a statutory holiday for all workers on September 30, leaving the decision over whether to grant the holiday up to individual businesses. While some businesses, like MEC, Lifestyle Markets, Clarity Cannabis, and others have chosen to acknowledge the day with a statutory holiday, many have not. UFCW 1518 has sent letters to Save-On-Foods, Sobeys, and FreshCo Kamloops asking them to give their workers the day off or statutory holiday pay in lieu.
Many Indigenous, First Nations, and Métis people work in government and non-government industries across Canada. UFCW 1518 is concerned that far more non-Indigenous people will get a paid day off than Indigenous people on a day meant to honour truth and reconciliation and provide time for quiet reflection and mourning.
“It is a frank injustice that federal government workers—employees of the very entity that created residential “schools”—get a day off while many Indigenous people must work,” said UFCW 1518 President Kim Novak. “We would expect FreshCo’s operator, Steve Fremmerlid, to help mend this injustice and do the right thing for his employees.”
UFCW 1518 polled workers at the Kamloops FreshCo about the statutory holiday. One-hundred percent of respondents stated that they would like to take the paid day off or receive statutory holiday pay in lieu.