Mov­ing to­wards recog­ni­tion

Na­tional In­dige­nous Peo­ples Day may be­come a statu­tory hol­i­day

Moose Jaw Times Herald - - FRONT PAGE - JOSHUA SAN­TOS

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.

MAR­LON HEC­TOR/TIMES-HER­ALD

MAR­LON HEC­TOR/TIMES-HER­ALD

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.

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