British Columbia moves to make NDTR an official holiday

British Columbia’s minister of Indigenous relations and reconciliation says now is the time to formally recognize National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

“It was time we thought for British Columbia to follow suit so that all workers in our province would be able to have a day where they could reflect on the history of residential schools and think about how we could move forward better together as a province,” Murray Rankin told Nation to Nation.

The NDP government introduced legislation this week to make Sept. 30 a statutory holiday in the province.

This follows the lead of the Trudeau government that made National Day for Truth and Reconciliation a federal holiday in 2021.

Rankin also talked about the foundational agreements the province has with First Nations where land is transferred outside of the treaty process.

Earlier this year, the province signed an agreement with the Lake Babine Nation which will see 20,000 hectares of waterfront and forestry lands within its traditional territory formally transferred to the First Nation.

“Ultimately, we want to create a modern arrangement with First Nations in British Columbia,” he said. “We have some significant treaties under the B.C. Treaty Commission process which we hope will be federal-provincial and the nation involved. We’re hoping to create a number of arrangements on the land, in British Columbia, to meet the needs of modern First Nations.”

The head of the Anishinabek Nation in northern Ontario also spoke to N2N about how First Nations feel after being left out of the bilateral health care talks the Trudeau government held with the 13 premiers earlier this week in Ottawa.

“The reality of what’s taking place on the ground should be advocated by the First Nations themselves,” Grand Chief Reg Niganobe said. “The treaty partners should be there to advocate in this discussion.”

Assembly of First Nations National Chief RoseAnne Archibald wrote a letter to the prime minister asking to be part of the talks but the AFN says in a press release Trudeau responded that he would be there to advocate on their behalf.

As part of the agreement, Ottawa has slated an extra $2 billion over ten years for Indigenous-specific health challenges.

Lastly, an NDP MP told N2N he is hopeful a proposed Indigenous urban national park in Windsor, Ont. will soon become a reality.

“This is actually about returning it (the area) to the heritage it had before and I’m fortunate enough to have the support and the consideration of Caldwell First Nation,” Brian Masse said.

“Looking at them to be co-managers of the facility too. This is about a working chapter that needs to come full circle and this is what is exciting about the project. It checks a lot of boxes off for the environment but also with reconciliation and our future.”

Masse’s private member’s bill C-248 is currently at the third reading stage in the House of Commons.

The proposed park would take in a total of 364 hectares and unite a number of green spaces.

He said if all goes according to plan, it could become a reality as soon as next year.

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