The flag of the Upper Similkameen Indian Band was raised at Princeton's town hall last week. Photo Town of Princeton

Princeton will mourn quietly to mark the first Truth and Reconciliation Day

Vermilion Metis Association offers free transit on September 30

Truth and Reconciliation Day, Thursday, Sept. 30, will be celebrated quietly in Princeton, according to Mayor Spencer Coyne.

The day is a new federal statutory holiday in 2021.

It is a paid holiday for federal employees like postal workers, and in BC most schools will be closed, along with B.C. government offices.

According to Coyne, Town of Princeton employees will have the day off, as will employees of the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen.

For Coyne, who is of Indigenous heritage, the day is “one of remembrance and mourning.” He cited the recently discovered graves of thousands of Indigenous children, near residential schools, and said this day turned into law means these atrocities are never forgotten.

“Unfortunately, because of COVID, we will not be doing any events,” said Coyne. “People are still very much in a stay-at-home frame of mind.”

Last week the Town of Princeton hoisted the flag of the Upper Similkameen Indian Band, outside town hall.

“It’s something we’ve been working towards for the last three years,” said Coyne.

“In western society flags are really important. People die for flags. The idea of flying the flag of the local Indian Band over a government institution, I think it shows that we recognize First Nations’ place on this land.”

The flag will have a permanent home at town hall, he said, adding the timing of its arrival with Truth and Reconciliation Day was fortuitous rather than planned.

Related: ‘Truth and Reconciliation is an action, not a day off’: Lower Similkameen Indian Band Chief

The Vermilion Fork Metis Association (VFMA) also announced it is paying for BC Transit services in Princeton on September 30.

“The Vermilion Forks Metis Association are pleased to sponsor BC Transit rides within Princeton,” said vice-president Ed Vermette in a written statement. “We will continue taking steps towards community awareness.”

The VFMA has been a chartered community of the Metis Nation of British Columbia since 2018.

Related: Businesses, schools and cities observing National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

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