Trudeau says going to Tofino on National Truth and Reconciliation Day is a ‘mistake’
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Wednesday that traveling to Tofino on National Truth and Reconciliation Day was a mistake and that he regrets it.
Speaking to reporters in Ottawa for the first time since his trip to the popular tourist destination of British Columbia, Trudeau said the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation was an important time for Indigenous peoples and non-natives to reflect and remember.
“Traveling on September 30 was a mistake, and I regret it,” Trudeau said Wednesday. “I try to do things right. “
Mr. Trudeau has been regularly criticized by Indigenous leaders and opposition parties for making the decision to fly to Tofino on Thursday, the first time the country has officially honored residential school survivors and those who are died while attending institutions.
Prior to Trudeau’s apology, Glen Hare, the Ontario regional chief for the Assembly of First Nations, said in a statement that the Prime Minister’s actions on the National Day amounted to a “serious error in judgment. “.
Mr. Hare also hoped the Prime Minister would have accepted any invitation from a First Nation chief “in solidarity with all residential school survivors, their families and their communities.”
Mr. Trudeau’s public itinerary for last Thursday said he was holding private meetings in Ottawa, but the Canadian Forces plane he was traveling in was detected on flight radar. When asked about the prime minister’s whereabouts, the office later confirmed he was in Tofino with his family.
His office also said he spoke that day with eight school survivors and noted that he attended an event on Parliament Hill on the eve of National Truth and Reconciliation Day.
The Prime Minister thanked Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc Kukpi7 (leader) Rosanne Casimir on Wednesday for taking his call this weekend so that he could apologize directly for not being present with his community that day.
Last week, Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation said the Prime Minister did not respond to an invitation to attend a ceremony near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School, where about 200 unmarked graves were located after a radar search more early this year.
“I look forward to visiting Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc in person very soon,” said Mr. Trudeau.
Over the weekend, Trudeau spoke with Casimir to apologize, a spokesperson for the Prime Minister’s Office said. The office did not provide details on the nature of the conversation between them.
The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation was created by Mr. Trudeau’s Liberal government. Since forming government in 2015, Mr. Trudeau has reiterated that the most important relationship for him and his government is one with Indigenous peoples.
Mr. Hare said on Wednesday that there was still a lot of work to be done for communities to heal from “the legacy of residential schools and cultural genocide.”
He said the Prime Minister and the federal government must demonstrate their full commitment to moving forward with First Nations, including the full implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action and for s ” ensure that there is full support for school survivors and children who have never returned.
With files from Marieke Walsh
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