Ottawa – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says traveling to Tofino, B.C. for the holiday on the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation was a “mistake” and is focused on making amends.
During an announcement on Wednesday, Trudeau addressed a controversy that has sparked criticism from politicians and Indigenous leaders last week.
“Travelling on September 30 was a mistake, and I regret it. The First National Day of Truth and Reconciliation is an opportunity for Indigenous peoples and non-Indigenous peoples alike to reflect and connect, thinking about the past but also focusing on the future. It was time to focus,” he said.
“There’s a lot of work for all of us and I’m committed to doing it.”
Trudeau said he looked forward to visiting Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc, which twice invited the prime minister to events last Thursday in recognition of the day.
Despite a public travel schedule that mentioned Trudeau was in “private meetings” in Ottawa, his office later confirmed that he had traveled to the West Coast to spend time with his family.
“I want to thank Tk’emlúps Chief Casimir for the conversations I had over the weekend, for which I apologized for not being with him and his community,” he said on Wednesday.
The prime minister attended a ceremony the night before and on Thursday he posted on Twitter that he spent time talking on the phone with residential school survivors, seeking their advice on “meaningful” reconciliation.
Parliament passed a bill last June, recognizing every September 30 as a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. It is a statutory holiday for federal workers, but the government has insisted it should be a day for reflection.
In an interview on Granthshala’s Question Hour on Sunday, Cindy Blackstock, executive director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, said Trudeau’s visit was a “complete letdown.”
“The prime minister decides he can have a day off – he could have a day off” [Friday]. i support the holiday i know they work hard but not on the first national day we should have spent [time] doing the duty of reconciliation,” she said.
Asked in French on Wednesday how he understood the controversy over the timing of his vacation diverted attention from the importance of the day, Trudeau said he takes responsibility to “do better” in the future.
“We will continue to do even more on the road to reconciliation, whether it is by continuing to dismantle long-standing boiling water advice, whether it is ensuring better investment in housing and better schools for children across the country.” support,” she said.