The UFCW 1518 Indigenous Committee is calling on the provincial and federal governments to mandate Truth and Reconciliation Day as a statutory holiday for all workers.
The Indigenous Committee, made up of five passionate UFCW 1518 member activists from different Indigenous communities, wrote a letter to BC Premier John Horgan, Yukon Premier Sandy Silver, BC Members of the Legislative Assembly, BC Members of Parliament and Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, Marc Miller, urging them to mandate National Day for Truth and Reconciliation as a statutory holiday by September 30, 2022.
Last year, the federal and provincial governments both fell 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. Some businesses recognized the holiday while the majority chose not to, including the nation’s largest grocery chains.
“How is Truth and Reconciliation Day to become more than a trendy new fad to pay lip service to if BC employers, operating on unceded lands in all communities across this province, are not mandated and legislated to take this day seriously,” asked Christine Holowka, one of the Indigenous Committee members who wrote the letter.
On a day that is supposed to honour truth and reconciliation, the union and the Committee are concerned that many Indigenous people will not be able to take the time off to observe the ceremonies held by their communities. The Committee is bringing urgency to this issue so that Indigenous workers can take the time to heal from the irrevocable harm inflicted on survivors, their families and communities, and to mourn and remember those who did not come home from residential schools.
In addition to the letters, a petition has been set up to provide an avenue for members and allies to add their voices. The Committee hopes to see the government take action to ensure that every Indigenous worker can take the time to heal and address the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual harms caused by residential schools.