Truth and reconciliation: N.B. chiefs criticize decision not to recognize holiday

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FREDERICTON — Chiefs representing the three largest First Nations in New Brunswick say they are profoundly disappointed with Premier Blaine Higgs' decision not to recognize the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation as a provincial holiday.

The Indigenous leaders released an open letter to the premier today — the day before the first Truth and Reconciliation Day — pointing out that many of the province's cities and towns will be honouring the victims of Canada's residential school system.

The chiefs of Elsipogtog, Esgenoopetiti and Neqotkuk say they are dismayed that all provincial schools and other government institutions will remain open on Thursday.

Ross Perley, chief of the Neqotkuk First Nation, says Higgs' decision represents a missed opportunity to repair damaged relations between Indigenous people and the provincial government.

The statutory holiday, declared by the federal government, applies to those who work for the federal government or federally regulated businesses.

Ottawa has left it up to provinces to decide if a statutory holiday applies at the provincial level.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 29, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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