A couple of years ago, here at the University of Lethbridge, we went from a thirteen week semester to twelve, and so from 32.5 hours of instruction per course to 30. Much of what counts as instruction at the primary and secondary levels is so lame that the loss of two and half hours would arguably be an improvement. But presumably 32.5 hours of instruction, as distinct from babysitting, from people with a decade of post-secondary education and an active research program, cannot be delivered in 30 hours. If it could be, there’s been one helluva con all these years, has there not? So some content had to be dropped. And so it was.
But offer anyone two and half hours of unfettered free time, and it’s no surprise that no one’s complaining. So neither is anyone complaining – least of all me – about what the Administration just announced today. And what was that? Well, last June Parliament declared that September 30 would henceforth be national Truth and Reconciliation Day, and that T&R Day would henceforth be a national holiday.
This year that falls on one of my teaching days. So for this fall – but for this fall only – my courses are down to 28.75 hours. (Unfortunately, in 2022 the schedule will be adjusted for T&R Day.) Still, it remains to be seen – though I’m pretty sure it will be seen – that if September 30 falls on a weekend, T&R Day will be celebrated on either the previous Friday or the following Monday.
No matter how specious the reason, another day off for some of us – or time and a half for others – is hardly grounds for protest. But why only three weeks after Labour Day? Or only a week before Canadian Thanksgiving? Too late for the beach and too early for the slopes. What committee of halfwits thought this one up?!
How many Canadians know what they’re honouring on Labour Day, other than that it’s a day they don’t have to labour? Or to whom they’re giving thanks on Thanksgiving? Or who they’re remembering on Remembrance Day? Or why January 1st is New Years rather than March 1st, which would make far more sense of September, October, November and December? Or what was so good about Good Friday? Or who the hell was Victoria?
Likewise, then, how long would it take before Canadians think that T&R Day is just the secular version of Yom Kippur, the day on which we Jews fess up to our shortcomings and try to make it right with those we’ve shorted? And then cease to think even that? That it was originally about residential schools – “What’s to be fessed up and reconciled about that?”, they’ll ask – will be as relevant to coloured eggs and stuffed bunnies as that Easter had something to do with some blasphemous carpenter who got his comeuppance a couple thousand years ago.
In short, T&R Day is as transparent and shameless a case of virtue-signalling as there can be. For which I can only express my gratitude. This fall I’m teaching Tuesdays and Thursdays. Normally I get four consecutive days off every week. For the last week of next month I’ll get six. No doubt both our Prime Minister and our University President will be spending that time on a self-flagellation tour of all those unmarked graves. I’m tempted to join them, but I think I’ll catch up on my yard work instead.