Why we’re giving our employees the day off despite Ontario not declaring Sept 30 a statutory holiday.


The discovery of the remains of thousands of Indigenous children on the grounds of former residential schools in Canada was heartbreaking. The Every Child Matters movement received a lot of support and encouragement.

Because of the groundswell of national support, in July the federal government declared September 30 National Day for Truth and Reconciliation a new national holiday.

Three provinces, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, and PEI were wise enough to follow the federal lead and declare a provincial statutory holiday. It’s unfortunate the Ontario government did not take advantage of this reconciliation opportunity to also declare it a statutory holiday. My hope is that next year they’ll take action to do so.

Ontario had a least 18 residential schools. The Government of Ontario still has an opportunity in a significant way to follow the 80th call to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to establish a day to honour residential school survivors, their families, communities, and the children who were lost.

A spokesperson for the Government of Ontario said Ontario will be treating the day much like Remembrance Day, which is also not a public holiday but which people typically pause to observe with a moment of silence while at work or school.

That’s not good enough.

We don’t want to take away from the significance of Remembrance Day. Because of our governments’ direct actions against Indigenous people for centuries and the refusal to acknowledge the damage for so long, we have much to account for. Reconciliation is about healing. The Indigenous community has made it clear what they need from us to help facilitate healing, as did the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Ontario needs to do more than just observe the day. It needs to be raised to the level of a statutory holiday to acknowledge the importance of our commitment to reconciliation.

As a small business company who deeply values the need for reconciliation with our Indigenous communities, we’ve decided we won’t wait for the Ontario Government to declare a statutory holiday. We’ve decided that we’re honouring September 30 National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and giving our employees the day as a holiday.

We’re encouraging our team and everyone to take time to reflect on the horrifying legacy of residential schools. Perhaps visit the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation website to learn more about our shared history, consider donating to an Indigenous charity, wear orange, attend an event, buy art or media from an Indigenous artist.

Perhaps the most important thing to do on September 30 — and every day, for that matter — is to be kind and show consideration to Indigenous communities who are hurting as they reflect on their history.

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