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Quebec premier still refuses to recognize National Day for Truth and Reconciliation as a holiday

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MONTREAL -

Quebec Premier François Legault has no intention of making Sept. 30 a holiday because "we need more productivity."

Legault made the comment on Canada's first National Day of Truth and Reconciliation, which honours residential school survivors and their families.

"What a sad answer. What an outdated view of productivity. Indigenous people deserve a day of remembrance and people work better when they can rest," Québec solidaire Parliamentary Leader Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois responded on Twitter.

His party put forward a motion Thursday, supported by the Quebec Liberal Party (PLQ) and the Parti Québécois (PQ), for the province to recognize Sept. 30 as a day to honour the survivors of residential schools, their families and commemorate the memory of the children who died in those institutions.

Government House Leader Simon Jolin-Barrette refused to adopt the motion.

"Everything cannot be reduced to basic logic. Commemoration and reconciliation are more than productivity," said Liberal Leader Dominique Anglade.

"An elementary response without thought to humanism on the part of the premier," added PQ member Martin Ouellet. 

The federal government created the holiday, following one of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's calls to action.

Some provinces and territories, such as British Columbia, Manitoba and the Northwest Territories, followed suit.

Quebec and Ontario, however, resisted the idea.

In a press release, the Native Women's Association of Canada expressed regret that the day is not being recognized as a holiday equally across the country, making it a "shortfall of official recognition."

"The call to action... is directed at the federal government, but it was clearly the intention of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that all Canadians reflect on the legacy of residential schools and the relationship between Indigenous people and the rest of Canada. They should have time to do that," said NWAC President Lorraine Whitman.

Nevertheless, the federal government says it hopes that the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation will be an opportunity for all provinces and territories to offer education and awareness activities on the theme of reconciliation.

"We see that many provinces and municipalities have decided to organize activities for the day, but not all provinces. I didn't expect everyone to be there the first year, but I hope that eventually, everyone will get there," said Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault.

Some businesses have made the personal decision to close their doors for the day, even if Sept. 30 is not considered a holiday across the country.

One example is realtor Simons, which announced on its website that all of its stores across Canada will be closed "during this national moment of reflection, remembrance and respect."

-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Sept. 30, 2021. 

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