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KAMLOOPS — Last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the federal government is moving forward on a plan to create a new statutory holiday to honour the survivors of residential schools in Canada. The new holiday is one of 94 calls-to-action put forth by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission when it published its final reports in 2015.

The Prime Minister said last week his government is collaborating with indigenous peoples from across Canada to work out the details of the new holiday, like the exact date and name of the new holiday.

“How exactly it’s named and framed will be done in the spirit of reconciliation,” Trudeau said last week.

Paul Michel, Executive Director of Indigenous Affairs at Thompson Rivers University said he’s pleased by the announcement but wants to ensure the day is recognized as an opportunity for reflection and education on indigenous culture across Canada.

“I do want all the organizations and companies, and everyone that’s involved with it to do something indigenous that day,” Michel told CFJC Today. “It’s not going to be a holiday where you can go do what you want, I would recommend that Canadian citizens participate in indigenous activities that would be happening nation-wide.”

Two possible dates that have been discussed are June 21st which is currently celebrated as National Indigenous Peoples Day, and September 30th, which is known as Orange Shirt Day and recognizes Phyllis Webstad’s journey through the residential school system. Michel says he doesn’t have a preference, as each day already offers activities for people who want to take part in activities related to reconciliation.

“There are already activities [those days], so I would encourage people to participate, look and connect… Let’s talk about positive ways we can transform Canada.”

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