Status of bill: First Reading carried.

Background: 

In 1982, the Assembly of First Nation (AFN) called for June 21 to be National Aboriginal Solidarity Day. In 1995, the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples recommended for a National First Peoples Day to be designated. The Sacred Assembly, a national conference of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, called for a national holiday to celebrate the contributions of Indigenous peoples.

Canada’s then governor general, Roméo LeBlanc, proclaimed the first National Aboriginal Day in 1996. AFN resolution (23/2013) called for the name change to be consistent with the international recognition (UNDRIP) of Indigenous peoples. In cooperation with Indigenous organizations, it seems that the Canadian government chose June 21 for National Indigenous Day because it was on or near the June solstice.

Currently, the Yukon Territory and North West Territories have local holidays for National Indigenous Day, whereas the remainder of Canada has it as a federally legislated day for recognizing and celebrating Indigenous cultures. Ontario would be the third jurisdiction to declare Indigenous Day as a regional holiday.

Current Status:

This new provincial legislation would, if passed, proclaim “Indigenous Day” to be a public holiday. This would include amendments to the Employment Standards Act, 2000, the Retail Business Holidays Act, and the Education Act. This means that except for crucial and emergency services, everyone in Ontario would have the day off work and school. It will be a holiday under Acts and regulations that rely on the definition of holiday in the Legislation Act, 2006. When Indigenous Day falls on a weekend, the following Monday will be the holiday instead.

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