Liberals consider enacting MP Rankin’s private member’s bill

The Liberal government says it is considering declaring September 30th as a day for truth and reconciliation, mirroring a private member’s bill MP Murray Rankin introduced in the House of Commons in November 2017.

MP Rankin’s bill, C-386, would make September 30th National Orange Shirt Day, a day to remember and honour those who were forced to attend residential schools in Canada. The title comes from a story shared by Phyllis Webstad of Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation in Williams Lake, BC. Webstad tells the emotional story of having her special orange shirt removed from her on her first day of residential school when she was just six years old. The date for Orange Shirt Day was chosen because it is the time of year when children were taken from their homes to residential schools.

MP Rankin and Ms. Webstad have been working together to make Orange Shirt Day nationally recognized since the fall of 2017 when the idea was brought to Rankin by Victoria locals Mr. Eddy Charlie, a Kuper Island Residential School survivor, and Ms. Kristin Spray, an ally and advocate.

The Liberals have reported that they are looking to establish either June 21st or September 30th as a national day for truth and reconciliation. The announcement comes after public criticism of the Liberals’ failure to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action nearly three years into the Liberals’ mandate.

“Orange Shirt Day would acknowledge that Canada intended to assimilate indigenous children by depriving them of their clothing, their language, and contact with their families. It would also educate future generations about the importance of respect and the role that both indigenous and non-indigenous Canadians must play in reconciliation,” said Victoria MP Rankin. “Hopefully, with all this pressure the Liberals are getting from the NDP and other Indigenous allies, they’ll actually go through with this important initiative.”

“My NDP colleagues and I have listened to the harrowing stories from survivors like Mr. Charlie and Ms. Webstad, and I introduced the Orange Shirt Day bill as a key step towards real, meaningful reconciliation,” added MP Rankin.  

MP Rankin’s Orange Shirt Day Bill was tabled last fall and seconded by Liberal MPs Larry Bagnell and Michael McLeod.

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