Let's make National Aboriginal Day a statutory holiday in Yukon

The Yukon NDP wants to give National Aboriginal Day, celebrated on June 21st, the same prestige as Discovery Day by making it a paid statutory holiday in Yukon. Making National Aboriginal Day a general holiday would recognize the contributions of Yukon indigenous people while supporting efforts at reconciliation and understanding between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Yukoners.

Approximately one in four Yukoners identifies as being First Nations, Métis or Inuit. Yukon First Nation governments already give their employees a paid day off on June 21st, but no other Yukon workers are formally given the opportunity to celebrate National Aboriginal Day.

“Aboriginal Yukoners play a central role in our communities. By making National Aboriginal Day a paid statutory holiday, we can ensure that all Yukoners can celebrate the contributions of Aboriginal cultures to our society,” said Yukon NDP tourism and culture critic Kevin Barr. “National Aboriginal Day should be a statutory holiday in Yukon.”

The Yukon NDP has received overwhelming support for this proposal from the chiefs of Yukon’s First Nations as well as the president of the Métis Association of Yukon, the Grand Chief of the Council of Yukon First Nations, and the Regional Chief of the Assembly of First Nations.

Alberta and Newfoundland and Labrador both lead Canada with seven provincial statutory holidays. With only four territorial statutory holidays, Yukon would not be an outlier in adding National Aboriginal Day to its calendar -- and the Northwest Territories already recognize National Aboriginal Day as a paid statutory holiday.

“Yukon’s First Nation chiefs are behind this proposal, and I sincerely hope that members of the business community, labour, municipal leaders and members of the Yukon public will back this effort,” added Barr. “This fall, I plan to table a motion to make National Aboriginal Day a statutory holiday -- and I hope that all parties will support this effort to share and celebrate Aboriginal cultures.”

Photo: chrishunkeler / flickr. Used under a Creative Commons BY 2.0 licence.