CALGARY – Workers and support staff of Local 052 at the University of Calgary were informed this week that they will be expected to work, while the majority of Canadians are entitled to a statutory holiday. National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, which occurs every September 30, falls on a Saturday this year. As such, the management at U of C has rolled back their support of the holiday and is now encouraging all members to attend NDTR events and reflect on their own time, and “subject to operational needs” of course.
In 2021, on the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, University of Calgary issued a statement stressing the importance of the holiday, and that they are “committed to renewing relationships with Indigenous peoples, and to creating an inclusive, mindful and respectful institution of teaching […] This will require system-wide transformation.”
Unfortunately, a day off for their workers to commemorate this important day is not the kind of system-wide transformation U of C is now encouraging in 2023. NDTR fell on a Thursday in 2021, and the academic calendar was modified to allow for a day off. In 2022, the holiday fell on a Friday, and the academic calendar was again modified. This year, someone either forgot to include NDTR, or decided it wasn’t worth the effort.
Canada’s National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is a day that the federal government has set aside for the preservation of Indigenous arts, language and traditions. As “so-called leaders” in post-secondary education, it is shameful that U of C is calling for Canadians to participate in their branded on-campus activities while openly rejecting the recommendation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada to grant a statutory holiday for their workers.
AUPE Vice President and Chair of the Human Rights Committee Bobby-Joe Borodey said, “The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada has issued over 90 recommendations, and setting aside a day to remind us all of the importance of reconciliation is one of the easiest to implement. It’s extremely disappointing to see employers abandoning their commitment to this important day.”
As we enter an intense year of negotiations, we remind all AUPE members to review their collective bargaining agreements and discuss how the language around statutory holidays affects your worksite. Any concerns should be addressed to your Local Executive and negotiating team.
AUPE Vice-President Bobby-Joe Borodey will be available for comment.