The Government of Canada recently passed legislation to make September 30 a federal statutory holiday called the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. This is an important step in the truth and reconciliation process. Its purpose is to provide an opportunity to recognize and commemorate the tragic history and ongoing legacy of residential schools and to honour their survivors, their families and communities.
As part of the commitment to the Calls to Action recommended by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for Canada, the Alberta Courts have offered training to judges and court staff on Indigenous history and culture. Providing for on-going education on these matters is vital in ensuring that the delivery of justice meets the needs of all Indigenous people.
In performing an essential public service, court hearings are scheduled at least several months in advance. The Courts have made a commitment to the parties involved to hear their matters on the dates set. Thus, on September 30 this year, hearings will proceed. To do otherwise at this stage would seriously disadvantage those affected, particularly those involved in criminal trials as accused, complainants and witnesses due to the time it would take to reschedule them.
Going forward, the Alberta Courts will be considering the measures that should be implemented each year to observe the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.