Yukon NDP National Aboriginal Day motion receives unanimous support

Yukon First Nations cultural recognition and reconciliation were granted a hopeful step forward today with the passage of Yukon NDP MLA Kevin Barr’s motion to recognize National Aboriginal Day, celebrated on 21 June every year, as a Yukon statutory holiday. With broad support from the Yukon public and the leadership of Yukon’s First Nations governments, the step will set the gears in motion for the Yukon government to add National Aboriginal Day to the territory’s statutory holiday list.

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

And the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action include the creation of a day for reconciliation – a role for which National Aboriginal Day would be well suited. With the implementation of National Aboriginal Day as a statutory holiday, Yukon would join the Northwest Territories in formally recognizing the day.

“The campaign to make National Aboriginal Day a Yukon statutory holiday has had a positive and unifying effect on people,” said Barr of his efforts to gather support for the motion. “Yukon’s First Nations have been celebrating National Aboriginal Day for years – and it’s time we help the rest of Yukon join them to mark this special day.”

The motion was amended in the legislature by Minister of Community Services Currie Dixon to add a consultative step and remove the timeline for declaring National Aboriginal Day’s statutory holiday status.

“We supported the amendments in good faith so we can move forward,” added Barr in response to the government’s amendments. “There is already broad support for this campaign, and the government has a strong mandate to make it happen.”

“We hope they will move quickly so that we can celebrate National Aboriginal Day as a statutory holiday in 2016.”