Many Manitoba municipalities will close their offices on Thursday in recognition of the National Truth and Reconciliation Day.
The Manitoba Municipal Administrators Association, which represents municipal workers across the province, surveyed 137 member municipalities to see how they plan to score on September 30.
They received 86 responses, 81 saying they would close and five saying they would stay open, said executive director Adrienne Bestland.
Some municipal offices will put flags at half mast, while others will light their buildings and monuments in orange in recognition of the day.
The federal government passed legislation in May to create the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, after hundreds of unmarked burial sites were found at the sites of several former residential schools across Canada.
The Manitoba government is also closing non-essential offices and closing schools on this day.
The five Manitoba communities that said their offices remained open Thursday are the Municipality of Ritchot, the Town of Niverville, the Town of Altona, the Town of Leaf Rapids and the Rural Municipality of Portage la Prairie.
However, after responding to the survey, Ritchot Mayor Chris Ewen said the city administration informed council that a long-standing city policy required it to grant staff all holidays.
Conflict of tax season
Originally, the municipality planned to remain open because the timing of the National Truth and Reconciliation Day conflicted with the scheduled tax season.
âIt was a tough decision by the board, and it just depended on how quickly we had to make the decision,â he said.
In addition to closing its offices, the community will lower its flags and have planned a walking tour of the parks of four communities – Ile des ChÃªnes, Grande Pointe, Ste. Agathe and Ste. Adolphe.
Books by indigenous authors will be displayed in public places where people can go to read about the experiences of indigenous peoples.
Niverville Mayor Myron Dyck also said the decision to stay open this year was due to the city’s tax season programming.
âBut starting this year, as this will continue, we will be changing our tax billing date to not be September 30,â Dyck said.
A newly opened recreation center in the community will soon include a local museum “so that we can honor all of the people who have been a part of this region around us, including our native friends and neighbors,” said Dyck.
The museum was planned before the federal government created the September 30 public holiday, Dyck said.