January – MP Len Webber’s Report

Calgary Confederation e

Time to party or time to learn?

Recently I received a letter from Georgina Jolibois, the Member of Parliament for Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, asking me to support her Private Member’s Bill C-369.

Her Bill proposes that National Indigenous Peoples Day, held annually on June 21st, be declared a statutory holiday across Canada. Last year, the day was renamed National Indigenous Peoples Day to promote inclusion of all Indigenous communities.

She points out that, “it is a day for families and communities to gather, celebrate First Nations, Métis and Inuit contributions to Canada. It is also a day to reflect on the many challenges that Indigenous communities still face today. It is a day to honour residential school survivors, their families and their communities.”

Over the years, there have been many calls to have Remembrance Day (November 11th) declared a statutory holiday, but none of these attempts have been adopted. The primary reason many people, including most veterans, oppose this change is because it would make the day more of a holiday rather than a day of learning, reflection and remembrance. I am inclined to oppose Bill C-369 for similar reasons.

All Canadians have much to learn from our history with Canada’s indigenous communities. Recent efforts to foster reconciliation have highlighted the lack of knowledge most Canadians have about our shared history—the good, the bad and the ugly.

There could be no better place for our future generations to be on June 21st than in school learning about this history. The history of our indigenous people is full of things to celebrate, but it is also replete with tragic stories that deserve to be shared and learned from. Like Remembrance Day, on National Indigenous Peoples Day we have lots to learn about, reflect on and remember—and that is more likely to take place in a classroom than at home. What do you think?