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Bills to commemorate Orange Shirt Day and Louis Riel pass final vote in Manitoba

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A bill to make Orange Shirt day a statutory holiday in Manitoba has passed its final vote in the legislature.

The bill will ensure that workers under provincial jurisdiction get a day off, or holiday pay if they work, every Sept. 30.

The day, also known as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, commemorates Indigenous children who attended residential schools.

The day is already a statutory holiday for federally regulated workers and employees in some other provinces such as British Columbia.

The legislature also passed a bill to designate Metis leader Louis Riel as Manitoba's honorary first premier.

Both bills are scheduled to come into effect Thursday after receiving royal assent by the lieutenant-governor.

The bills were a campaign promise of the New Democrats and Premier Wab Kinew, whose father suffered abuse at a residential school.

Kinew said the residential schools affected Indigenous children across Canada, and their families as well.

"It's important that we honour the impacts on the families who were left behind during this era," Kinew said Wednesday.

"As a parent today, I often reflect on what I would feel like if my kids had been a part of this era. Certainly it's not something that any of us as parents would want to have the experience of going through."

The Louis Riel bill recognizes the efforts of the man who led a provisional government in what is now Manitoba and set down a list of rights that formed the basis for Manitoba's entry into Confederation.

Kinew has said efforts will be made to ensure Riel's full story is told in schools across the province.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 6, 2023.

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