In­dige­nous ad­vo­cate wants Trudeau to write Rolling Stone to ex­press ‘re­gret’

Cape Breton Post - - Canada -

Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau says he “re­grets’’ com­ments he made about Sen. Pa­trick Brazeau in Rolling Stone, but an In­dige­nous ad­vo­cate wants him to ex­press his re­morse in a let­ter to the pop­u­lar U.S. mag­a­zine.

Trudeau told Rolling Stone in a story ti­tled “Justin Trudeau: The North Star,’’ that his choice of Brazeau as an op­po­nent in a March 2012 char­ity box­ing match “wasn’t ran­dom.’’ Brazeau is from the Kit­i­gan Zibi Anishin­abeg First Na­tion in Que­bec.

“I wanted some­one who would be a good foil, and we stum­bled upon the scrappy tough-guy se­na­tor from an In­dige­nous com­mu­nity. He fit the bill and it was a very nice coun­ter­point,’’ Trudeau told the mag­a­zine.

“I saw it as the right kind of nar­ra­tive, the right story to tell,’’ he said about the can­cer-fundraiser fight he won in Ottawa when he was a mem­ber of Par­lia­ment.

On Tues­day, Trudeau said in a CBC ra­dio in­ter­view in Vancouver that he re­gret­ted his choice of lan­guage in de­scrib­ing the In­de­pen­dent se­na­tor.

“The way I have per­son­ally en­gaged with In­dige­nous lead­er­ship and In­dige­nous com­mu­ni­ties over the past years and cer­tainly as we’re do­ing it as a gov­ern­ment, rec­og­nizes that there are a lot of pat­terns to change,’’ said Trudeau, who has made rec­on­cil­i­a­tion with First Na­tions a top pri­or­ity.

“I try and make sure that we’re stay­ing fo­cused on rec­og­niz­ing that true rec­on­cil­i­a­tion in­volves chang­ing ap­proaches and chang­ing mind­set. The way I framed it and char­ac­ter­ized that doesn’t con­trib­ute to the pos­i­tive spirit of rec­on­cil­i­a­tion that I like to think and I know my gov­ern­ment stands for.’’

Brazeau de­clined com­ment.

Cindy Black­stock, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the First Na­tions Child and Fam­ily Car­ing So­ci­ety of Canada, said she’s glad Trudeau apol­o­gized for com­ments, say­ing the im­age of “the sav­age and the civ­i­lized’’ has dom­i­nated Cana­dian gov­ern­ment for too long.

How­ever, it’s im­por­tant for the prime min­is­ter to set the record straight in a let­ter to Rolling Stone “so the same peo­ple who read that ar­ti­cle ac­tu­ally get to learn from the hu­mil­ity of him say­ing what he did was wrong and why it was wrong,’’ she said.

“The idea that you would go search­ing for an In­dige­nous per­son to en­gage in an ex­er­cise with

the aim, re­ally, of mak­ing your­self look good, as that seems to im­ply, is dis­turb­ing.’’

In Fe­bru­ary, Trudeau was crit­i­cized by NDP mem­ber of Par­lia­ment Romeo Sa­ganash, a former Cree leader, about re­marks the prime min­is­ter made in re­sponse to a ques­tion on fund­ing to First Na­tions com­mu­ni­ties.

Trudeau told a town hall in Saska­toon that he’d spo­ken with a num­ber of First Na­tions chiefs who said young peo­ple need youth cen­tres with TVs and so­fas so they can hang out.

“When a chief says that to me I pretty much know they haven’t ac­tu­ally talked to their young

peo­ple,’’ Trudeau said at the town hall.

“Most of the young peo­ple I’ve talked are ask­ing for a place to store their ca­noes and pad­dles so they can con­nect back out on the land and a place with In­ter­net ac­cess so they can do their home­work in a mean­ing­ful way be­cause their homes are of­ten too crowded and they need a place to work and study.’’

Sa­ganash called Trudeau’s com­ments ig­no­rant and in­sult­ing. He wrote a satir­i­cal let­ter say­ing a na­tional ca­noe and pad­dle pro­gram must have been a “se­cret’’ rec­om­men­da­tion of the Truth and Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion Com­mis­sion.

CP PHOTO

Con­ser­va­tive Se­na­tor Pa­trick Brazeau con­grat­u­lates Lib­eral MP Justin Trudeau af­ter their char­ity box­ing match for can­cer re­search Satur­day, March 31, 2012 in Ottawa. Justin Trudeau says he “re­grets” com­ments he made about Sen. Pa­trick Brazeau in a re­cent in­ter­view with Rolling Stone mag­a­zine.

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