National Post (Latest Edition)
Action, not apologies, First Nation tells Trudeau
VANCOUVER • The Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation dismissed an apology from the prime minister for choosing to go to the beach with his family instead of recognizing the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
On Wednesday, Justin Trudeau said he regrets the mistake of travelling to B.C. to join his vacationing family in Tofino on the day meant to honour survivors of the residential school system.
The First Nation in Kamloops, B.C., said in a statement on Thursday “real action and change” is needed that supports healing and the revitalization of their language, culture and traditions.
“We are not interested in apologies that don’t lead to institutional and widespread change.”
The statement said his attendance would have been an “acknowledgment” to all survivors, their families and communities, adding that “a clear public gesture would have brought peace to many.”
Trudeau “missed an opportunity” to show his commitment to the survivors of residential schools by not replying to its invitations to take part in the day of reflection on Sept. 30. The Trudeau government declared the day a statutory holiday earlier this year.
The statement from the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc said the lack of a response to two letters was “an added insult,” but it looks forward to welcoming Trudeau in the community later this month.
It added Trudeau’s presence would have shown the world his personal commitment to “enacting real change and rectifying the historical wrongs” of the residential school system, and to personally support grieving Indian Residential School survivors.
The Prime Minister’s Office said in a brief statement Thursday that Trudeau and Tk’emlups te Secwepemc Chief Rosanne Casimir had spoken about the path forward to reconciliation.
It added that Trudeau and Casimir had previously spoken following the finding of more than 200 unmarked graves at the site of the former residential school.
Trudeau’s office said Sunday that the prime minister spoke with the head of the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc Nation on Saturday and apologized for failing to accept invitations to mark Sept. 30 in the community.
The First Nation said it wants funding for a healing centre to support residential school survivors as well as being supplied with the school’s attendance records by the federal government, which could help identify remains found at the site as well as any other missing children.