The Town of Rothesay is joining its neighbour Quispamsis in educating its staff about the intergenerational trauma of residential schools instead of observing a statutory holiday on National Truth and Reconciliation Day later this month.
During a Monday night council meeting, Deputy Mayor Matt Alexander said on Sept. 30 the town will take the day of reflection to educate its staff, with councillors voting unanimously to pass the motion.
"The town will work towards commemorating the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in 2022 and beyond through community education and celebration," Alexander said, adding when the Government of New Brunswick declares Sept. 30 a statutory holiday, the town will as well.
Last week, Quispamsis council also voted to keep its town hall open, but have staff and council members attend a reconciliation ceremony at Meenan's Cove in the afternoon.
Quispamsis Mayor Libby O'Hara told the newspaper the town was following the province's lead after Premier Blaine Higgs announced the province would observe Sept. 30 as a holiday, which was legislated for federal workers by Ottawa in the spring, but said the day will not be a provincial statutory holiday, meaning schools and other provincial workplaces will also remain open.
In an interview, Rothesay Mayor Nancy Grant said the town felt the educational aspect of Sept. 30 was more important than a civic holiday.
Both towns are bucking the trend in New Brunswick that's seeing municipalities mark the inaugural National Day for Truth and Reconciliation as a statutory holiday.
Moncton council voted unanimously last week to make the day a paid holiday, while the City of Saint John also said it would also recognize the day as a statutory holiday. Meanwhile, St. George, Blacks Harbour and St. Stephen will also close their doors, a decision based on their collective agreements.
Also in Kings County, the Town of Sussex and Village of Sussex Corner will be closed. While Hampton has not yet decided, it's holding an event on Sept. 25 called Honouring the Children and Peace Powwow. As well as having traditional dance, drumming and crafts, the event will include "two powwow drums leading a grand entry of elders, dancers, student representatives, and community leaders into the Town Square," reads the event page.
Robin Grant, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Telegraph-Journal