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New holiday to be created to remember residential schools

A local Archbishop says a holiday designed to remember the legacy of residential schools should be about more than just that. The Holiday was announced last week by the Canadian Government.

Archbishop Gerard Pettipas of the Archdiocese of Grouard-McLennan in Grande Prairie says the holiday was created as one of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 calls to action.

“This is call number 80. The way that the call to action is written sounds like it’s going to be created to honour the survivors of the residential schools and personally I would like to see a holiday like that be a bit broader.”

The government is currently looking at two possible dates for the holiday, either on June 21 or September 30. Pettipas says he is in favour of a new holiday but would rather it be used to educate Canadians and bring attention to Indigenous cultures rather than focusing on the past.

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“I would prefer that the focus be on something like Indigenous cultures or treaty… I think it would be good to honour our Indigenous people but I wouldn’t be wild about the whole event focusing on residential schools because that’s a past event… It’s not just about what we have done in the past it’s about what can we do in the future to recognize the heritage of Indigenous communities.”

Pettipas says he hopes the day can be used as a tool to build positive relationships between groups of people as opposed to remembering an injustice.

“I hope it’s not just about mourning and regretting what was done in residential schools because I think most of us get it now. I’d like to see this have a positive spin to it and hopefully do something about reconciliation as a way to build relationships.”

An exact date has not yet been set for when the new holiday will officially take place.

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