This is part of an ongoing effort to make USask the diverse, equitable, and inclusive community that best embodies our values. It is also a time for us as a university to re-commit to leading positive change with and for Indigenous peoples, as we strive to be the most welcoming place we can be for Indigenous students, faculty and staff, and their communities.
Establishing a national holiday to commemorate the tragic legacy of residential schools in Canada was one of the 94 recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It is expected the holiday will be accompanied by educational campaigns similar to Remembrance Day, creating an opportunity to educate and remind Canadians about the history of residential schools, honour the victims and celebrate the survivors.
The university will offer all faculty, staff and students a day off every year to recognize the significance of National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. We hope our campus community can use the time to learn, reflect and contemplate how we can do our part to eliminate structural and overt racism and other forms of discrimination on our campus, in our communities, and across the country.
Staff members categorized as essential services staff required to work on holidays will receive holiday pay for hours, aligned with union contracts. As with all official university holidays, classes will not meet.
This date coincides with Orange Shirt Day, which began in 2013 and involves wearing orange shirts to honour Indigenous children forced to leave their families to attend residential schools. The orange shirt came to symbolize the experiences and abuse suffered by children at residential schools after Phyllis Webstad, a member of the Stswecem'c Xgat'tem First Nation, shared the story of her first day going to school on the Dog Creek reserve in British Columbia.