Bill S-219, An Act Respecting a National Ribbon Skirt Day, Receives Royal Assent

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December 20, 2022 — Ottawa, Ontario — Crown−Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada

Today, the Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Crown−Indigenous Relations, announced that Bill S-219, An Act Respecting a National Ribbon Skirt Day, received Royal Assent on December 15, 2022, and is now an Act of Parliament

This Bill was passed thanks to the commitment and leadership of Isabella Kulak, her family, Chief George Cote of the Cote First Nation, Treaty 4 Territory in Saskatchewan, Senator Mary Jane McCallum, and Jenica Atwin, Member of Parliament for Fredericton, who began advocating for this day after Isabella was shamed for wearing her Ribbon Skirt to school.

Traditionally, Ribbon Skirts are worn in ceremonies or at special events, and are representative of a person’s unique diversity and strength. Women, girls and gender diverse people also wear them to express pride and confidence in their Indigenous identity and heritage.

Every year on January 4, National Ribbon Skirt Day will provide an opportunity for everyone in Canada to recognize, learn about, and celebrate the importance of Indigenous traditions and expressions of culture. The Ribbon Skirt is one such tradition.

On National Ribbon Skirt Day, we can learn from Isabella’s experience. We can combat racism and discrimination against Indigenous Peoples by raising awareness of, and celebrating, Indigenous ways of knowing and being.

Quotes

“It is a historic day for Cote First Nation. Isabella Kulak and her family have been so humble in sharing an experience to the world—that it is okay to be proud of your heritage and culture. I thank the Senate of Canada; Senator Mary Jane McCallum; Member of Parliament for Fredericton, Jenica Atwin; Minister Marc Miller; and Good Spirit School Division for their support of Bill S-219. This Bill will open the doors not only to the Indigenous Nations but to other ethnic groups to live in harmony. Isabella has shown great courage to give hope to the future of our People to know our identity and to be proud of who we are. In the spirit of Truth and Reconciliation, National Ribbon Skirt Day has come to fruition on January 4th.”

Chief George Cote, Cote First Nation
Treaty 4 Territory

“We would like to give all the glory to the Creator for working through Isabella and our family to create such positive change in the world. National Ribbon Skirt Day is meant to bring us all together to celebrate and display identity, culture, and pride in one’s self. We thank all the Knowledge Keepers and matriarchs, both past and present, for keeping ceremony and tradition alive so that all of this became possible. This is an amazing day for Canada and marks the beginning of Truth and Reconciliation.”

Christopher Kulak, Cote First Nation
Saskatchewan

"I would like to thank and congratulate Isabella Kulak, her family, Chief George Cote of the Cote First Nation in Saskatchewan, and Senator Mary Jane McCallum, and Jenica Atwin, Member of Parliament for Fredericton, for their commitment and advocacy of this Bill. Indigenous Peoples have the right to the dignity and diversity of their cultures, traditions, histories and aspirations, but Isabella’s story shows that too often this is not respected. National Ribbon Skirt Day will help protect and advocate for these rights, for generations to come.”

The Honourable Marc Miller
Minister of Crown–Indigenous Relations

“The passage of Bill S-219 is a momentous achievement for Canada’s Parliament, as it required that a historically colonial institution be transformed into a sacred space, empowering our youth in undertaking their own self-determining, self-affirming actions. I thank MP Jenica Atwin and Minister Marc Miller for enabling this bill’s swift passage. Bill S-219 belongs to community: specifically, Isabella Kulak, Cote First Nation, and the wider community, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, who supported its spirit and intent. Their advocacy made this possible. On January 4th, Indigenous Peoples and non-Indigenous Peoples across the country are encouraged to proudly wear regalia that represent the power of their respective cultures and heritages. Doing so will serve to facilitate dialogue, nurture understanding, and promote a more unified and tolerant Canada.”

The Honourable Senator Mary Jane McCallum

“I had the incredible honour of sponsoring Bill 219 to bring the voice of Isabella Kulak and her family into the House of Commons. Ribbon skirts represent cultural and spiritual protection, like armour; they are meaningful and beautiful, carrying teachings and stories. The story of this legislation is one of fighting against injustice, celebrating Indigenous women, girls, and gender diverse people, and creating an inclusive society where they can grow up and be their true self, happy and proud of who they are.”

The Honourable Jenica Atwin
Member of Parliament for Fredericton

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Contacts

For more information, media may contact:

Aïssatou Diop 
Press Secretary and Communications Advisor
Office of the Honourable Marc Miller
Minister of Crown–Indigenous Relations
aissatou.diop@rcaanc-cirnac.gc.ca

CIRNAC Media Relations:
Email: RCAANC.Media.CIRNAC@sac-isc.gc.ca 
Phone: 819-934-2302

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