Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller stands during a moment of silence in the House of Commons Friday May 28, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller stands during a moment of silence in the House of Commons Friday May 28, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

MPs fast-tracking bill to create a national day for truth and reconciliation

The legislation would establish a new statutory holiday to commemorate the victims and survivors of Indigenous residential schools

Federal lawmakers are fast-tracking legislation to create a national day for truth and reconciliation.

In a Liberal motion, MPs moved unanimously to wrap debate on Bill C-5 and deem it passed by day’s end, sending it to the Senate.

The legislation would establish a new statutory holiday to commemorate the victims and survivors of Indigenous residential schools.

The move comes a day after a First Nation in British Columbia confirmed discovery of the remains of 215 children buried in unmarked graves on the site of a former residential school in Kamloops.

The bill follows a similar one introduced by the NDP in 2017 that foundered in the Senate two years later.

The statutory holiday, which would apply to federally regulated workers, is set for Sept. 30.

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller has said the bill marks a step toward righting past wrongs associated with the residential school system, which he deemed a “national tragedy borne by colonialism and propelled by systematic racism.”

Miller stood during a moment of silence in the House of Commons Friday. The Chamber paused to observe a moment of silence for the 215 children whose remains were found at the former residential school.

Green MP Jenica Atwin teared up during the third-reading debate Friday, tracing a direct line between the legacy of colonialism and the myriad challenges facing Indigenous people today.

Bill C-5 will help bring awareness to “the horrors of the past,” she said.

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