Moving towards recognition
National Indigenous Peoples Day may become a statutory holiday
ASaskatchewan MP’s bill to make National Indigenous Peoples Day a public holiday is moving ahead.
“It’ll be a catalyst for making non-Indigenous people more aware of their neighbours who are Indigenous,” said Xavier Fisher, Indigenous Students Centre co-ordinator at Moose Jaw’s Saskatchewan Polytechnic campus.
Georgina Jolibois, NDP MP for Desnethé-Missinippi-Churchill River, proposed a bill wanting the day — June 21 — to be a day off for all.
“I can confidently say that it’s something a number of people in the Indigenous community feel would be a good natural progression for that day,” said Fisher.
The day is already a statutory holiday in the Northwest Territories and Yukon.
Fisher said different First Nations chiefs and councils, as well as Métis organizations, recognize the holiday by taking the day off.
“I’d like to see it come to fruition. I don’t know how non-Indigenous people feel about it, but even if they have no regard for Indigenous people, they’re still going to be getting an extra day off within the month of June,” said Fisher.
It’ll be a catalyst for making non-Indigenous people more aware of their neighbours who are Indigenous.
Xavier Fisher, Co-ordinator, Indigenous Students Centre
The bill had its first reading in the House of Commons on Oct. 24 and is scheduled for a second reading Dec. 8.
“To make it recognized nationally, I don’t see anything wrong in making that happen. It would be very welcomed,” said Fisher.
Jeff Cappo, chairperson of the Wakamow Aboriginal Community Association (WACA), said making National Indigenous Peoples Day a public holiday is long overdue.
“It’s a great thing to have to recognize the Indigenous people in Canada. Especially in Canada, knowing that the contributions that were made (as we were) the original habitants of what we called Turtle Island.”
He said the day would showcase the contributions Indigenous people have made for newcomers.
“I think it’ll open up a lot more meaningful direction to the truth and reconciliation,” said Cappo.
Fisher said the bill might seem like a beneficial step towards reconciliation, but the federal government needs to do more.
“From my perspective, its very minute. They need to be doing a lot more than just declaring days as national holidays for us,” Fisher said.
He said the government has faltered a number of times on what they promised and what they were able to provide.
A Treaty 4 flag was raised Oct. 13 in Moose Jaw. A bill to make National Indigenous Peoples Day a stat holiday is moving ahead.