The Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) has amended the Employment Standards Act (Act) to add the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to the list of statutory holidays, to be observed on September 30 annually, beginning in 2022.
This holiday gives all Northwest Territories (NWT) residents an opportunity to acknowledge the territory’s colonial history and the legacy of residential schools.
Following the implementation of the federal National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in 2021, the GNWT conducted engagement with Indigenous governments and organizations, businesses, industry organizations and labour groups, non-profit organizations, community governments, and the general public on whether the Act should be amended to establish September 30 as a statutory holiday, and to ensure the holiday would be observed in a way that considers and respects their views.
Overall, public engagement indicated support for amending the Act to establish the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation as a statutory holiday in the NWT.
Feedback gathered during engagement indicated that other meaningful action needs to take place alongside this day, such as events, ceremonies, education, and supports for NWT residents.
Over the coming months, the GNWT will continue to work with Indigenous governments and organizations, and community governments to explore how the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation could be further supported and acknowledged beyond the establishment of a statutory holiday.
“Establishing this statutory holiday is a significant step towards reconciliation in the Northwest Territories. The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is a time to reflect and remember. It’s a day to acknowledge the territory’s colonial history and the legacy of residential schools. While we commemorate survivors, families and communities, September 30 can also be a day of hope. We can look to the future of the NWT and its peoples, and continue reconciliation efforts with the resurgence and reclamation of Indigenous cultures, languages, traditions and knowledge.”
- R.J. Simpson, Minister of Education, Culture and Employment
- The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action included a call for the federal government to establish a statutory holiday, a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, to honour survivors, families, and communities, and ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process.
- On August 3, 2021, Bill C-5 came into force creating the new federal holiday, providing all federal government and federally-regulated private sector employees with a paid holiday on September 30 of each calendar year beginning in 2021.
- The GNWT subsequently amended the Public Service Holiday Order made under the Public Service Act to allow for its employees to observe the holiday on Sept. 30, 2021; however, there wasn’t sufficient time to amend the Employment Standards Act – and extend the holiday to all NWT employees – prior to the 2021 holiday.
- Bill 47 came into force on June 3, 2022, which adds the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to the list of statutory holidays in the Northwest Territories’ Employment Standards Act and extends the holiday to all workers in the NWT.
- Bill 47 included consequential amendments to the Interpretation Act and the current Public Services Holiday Order to ensure alignment across legislation in the NWT and extend the holiday for members of the territorial public service going forward.
For media requests, please contact:
Public Affairs and Communications
Department of Education, Culture and Employment
Government of the Northwest Territories