BROCKTON – Although there was considerable support for fulfilling all the 94 Calls to Action from the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission by declaring Sept. 30 a holiday in Brockton, council decided it wasn’t practical for this year.
The TRC’s Calls to Action include Recommendation 80, that the federal government, in collaboration with Indigenous peoples, establish, as a statutory holiday, a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to ensure public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process.
The federal government announced that Sept. 30 would be the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation (Orange Shirt Day) and a statutory holiday. Although a federal statutory holiday, it is not yet a public holiday across Ontario.
Brockton staff compiled a list of measures to be taken, to begin implementing the Calls to Action, including flying the Every Child Matters flags at half-mast for the entire month of September, encouraging staff to wear orange shirts on Sept. 30, have employees attend online training on Sept. 30 to recognize the day, and a number of other actions.
The suggestion that Brockton lead the way in area municipalities by making Sept. 30 a holiday came from Coun. Tim Elphick, and was quite well received.
Coun. James Lang supported it.
Deputy Mayor Dan Gieruszak said he was concerned about the cost.
Other concerns included what to do about daycare staff.
CAO Sonya Watson noted schools would be open that day, meaning it would be similar to Remembrance Day.
And while most municipal staff could be given the day off, people from the finance department would be working – taxes are due Sept. 30.
Coun. Steve Adams said, “We don’t have provincial and federal direction on this,” and added that he doesn’t see how declaring a holiday would “move the yardstick an inch.”
A motion to amend the recommendation to include making Sept. 30 a holiday in Brockton was defeated. The original recommendation carried.
Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times