Not all Kamloops, Okanagan workers treated equally on National Day of Truth and Reconciliation | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Not all Kamloops, Okanagan workers treated equally on National Day of Truth and Reconciliation

The community gathered at the Tk'emlups arbor grounds for a ceremony to honour the children who died at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.

The first National Day of Truth and Reconciliation on Thursday gives many government and institutional workers a paid day off to reflect on the tragic impact residential schools had on First Nations in Canada.

For those in most retail, industrial and other businesses, it’s something they’ll have to do on their own time after work or while running the cash registers or working on the shop floors.

“This is a time to learn and listen to the truths of residential school survivors, families and communities, as well as to support and value Indigenous culture,” Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran said in news release announcing the city’s flags will fly at half mast, Thursday, Sept. 30. “This might be a day of quiet personal reflection, or it could be a day experienced through participation in a community event.”

READ MORE: How some First Nations are recognizing National Day for Truth and Reconciliation Sept. 30

Other Thompson-Okanagan communities have said city halls and some other municipal facilities will be closed for the day.

The federal government has proclaimed Sept. 30 as the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation and designated it as a federal statutory holiday, but B.C. has not followed suit.

That means people employed directly by the federal government get the day off with pay and offices will be closed. It also means that other federally regulated industries, like banks, radio and TV broadcasters, the post office and airlines, get a statutory holiday.

READ MORE: Penticton Indian Band Chief won't celebrate truth and reconciliation until it's achieved

For its part, the B.C. government is doing the same for workers under its jurisdiction.

“We have advised provincial public-sector employers to honour this day and in recognition of the obligations in the vast majority of collective agreements,” the province said in an Aug. 3 news release. “Many public services will remain open but may be operating at reduced levels. However, most schools, post-secondary institutions, some health sector workplaces, and Crown corporations will be closed.”

For example, UBC Okanagan in Kelowna, Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops and Okanagan College with branches throughout the Okanagan will be closed for the day.

What the province has not done is amend its Employment Standards Act to make the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation a provincial statutory holiday where all employers must either give their workers the day off with pay, or pay them a premium for working that day, similar to Labour Day or any other statutory holiday.

That means most businesses will be open as usual.

National Day of Truth and Reconciliation is set for Sept. 30 to coincide with Orange Shirt Day, which has been informally recognized for a number of years as a day to honour the thousands of First Nations children who suffered through the residential school system and those who died there, as the growing evidence of unmarked graves demonstrates.

If employers permit, workers can wear orange shirts during their shifts as a show of support.

READ MORE: Tk'emlups graves report sheds light on study; further work stalled by lack of records

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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