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Aboriginal Day and Multiculturalism Day in Canada

June 21, 2014, is Aboriginal Day in Canada, and June 27, 2014, is Canadian Multiculturalism Day, and is worth mentioning.

June 21 is the longest day of the year and marks the changing of seasons. It is also a very important day for Aboriginal people (First Nation, Métis, Inuit) because for generations, many Aboriginal groups have celebrated their culture and heritage at this time of year. In 1982, this day was chosen to celebrate the land and the Aboriginal people and their culture. It is also a public (statutory) holiday in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. Employees must be given a day off with pay. This is a sacred day for employees belonging to Canadian Inuit, Métis and First Nation communities; employers in other provinces and territories may have to accommodate employees who want to observe this day. Communities hold feasts and invite guests.

On November 13, 2002, the Government of Canada, by Royal Proclamation, designated June 27 of each year as Canadian Multiculturalism Day. This day is not a public holiday but is, in addition to National Aboriginal Day (June 21) and Saint-Jean Baptiste Day (June 24), part of Celebrate Canada, a week-long celebration of events culminating in Canada Day (July 1). Multiculturalism Day is intended to encourage individuals to reflect on our shared commitment to democracy, equality and mutual respect.

All Canadians are encouraged to take part in the events and discover the wealth of Canada’s diversity.

These events offer opportunities for employers to reflect how they can create an inclusive and supportive work environment by, for example, modifying their recruitment and hiring practices to reach a more diverse applicant pool, and to successfully engage and support them as employees. This would consist of implementing the right workplace culture. This means learning about the cultural backgrounds, lives and interests of employees outside of the workplace. Building relationships through increased understanding and trust helps to foster inclusion. Be aware of, and provide time off for, culturally significant events and holy days. Consider offering a float day for employees to use at their discretion to observe such events or days.

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Yosie Saint-Cyr

Managing Editor at First Reference Inc.
Yosie Saint-Cyr, LL.B., is a trained lawyer called to the Quebec bar in 1988 and is still a member in good standing. She practiced business, employment and labour law until 1999. For over 15 years, Yosie has been the Managing Editor of the following publications, Human Resources Advisor, Human Resources PolicyPro, HRinfodesk and Accessibility Standards PolicyPro from First Reference. Yosie is one of Canada’s best known and most respected HR authors, with an extensive background in employment and labour across the country. Read more
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