Prime Minister Justin Trudeau faced mounting criticism Friday, including from an organization representing Indigenous women and girls, for celebrating the first National Day of Truth and Reconciliation in Tofino, B.C.
Mr Trudeau’s plane took off on Thursday from Kamloops, where he was invited to mark Inauguration Day at First Nations celebrations near the site where the remains of former residential-school children were unmarked earlier this year. were found in the tombs. His office did not explain why he did not attend the event. He also did not attend Tofino’s shows.
Instead, the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement on Friday that Mr Trudeau spoke with eight residential-school survivors across the country over several hours on Thursday. The office did not identify the individuals. He attended a ceremony on Parliament Hill on Wednesday night but did not attend any events on the official day.
On Thursday, Mr Trudeau’s office confirmed that he would be staying with family for a few days at the popular tourist destination in British Columbia, despite the fact that his public itinerary said he would hold private meetings in Ottawa and that his None mentioned. Travel.
PMO spokesman Alex Wellstead said on Friday that the prime minister is staying at the same private residence he had previously visited and the use of the space has been approved by the ethics commissioner. The six-bedroom beachfront property is listed for sale for $18.8 million.
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Trudeau flies to Tofino for the holidays with family as Canada celebrates the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
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The Native Women’s Association of Canada said in a statement that it was shocked and disappointed by Mr Trudeau’s decision, especially when he has publicly stated that no relation is more important to the Liberal government than indigenous peoples.
The organization’s CEO Lynn Groulx said those words are “incredibly hollow when Mr Trudeau could not take the time that his own government had set aside to reflect on the tragedy of Indian residential schools and instead decided to go to Tofino for vacation.” decided.”
The creation of a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation was one of the calls for action of the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2015. On Thursday, the country marked this day for the first time.
Ontario NDP MP Charlie Angus questioned whether one could imagine a prime minister trying to explain that he spent Remembrance Day at the beach. The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation was designed to recognize the survivors, saying Mr Trudeau’s decision to go to Tofino that day showed a “very bad decision”.
Mr Wellstead said on Thursday that “he was not on the beach.” However, later, Global News published a video of Mr Trudeau and his wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau walking on the beach.
The Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations Truth and Reconciliation Walk began Thursday morning at the Nation’s Tin Wis resort, located on the former site of Christie Residential School, one kilometer north of Prime Minister’s Beachfront Retreat.
According to Tofino Mayor Dan, more than a hundred people marched 3.5 kilometers down the highway to Tofino and began to hear survivors describing the colonial education system, including some who left their homes that morning. and saw the Prime Minister and his entourage enjoying the holiday. Law.
“There were certainly some people who thought it was in rather bad taste,” Mr Law said.
Judith Sayers, president of the Nuu-Chah-Nulth Tribal Council, which represents nearly 10,000 members of the 14 First Nations in the region, said Mr Trudeau’s recent actions reflected his rhetoric on prioritizing reform in Ottawa’s reconciliation efforts. denied.
“It’s almost a major, one-on-one talk – at least for us as Indigenous peoples – because the first National Day of Truth and Reconciliation was an important one,” said Dr. Sayers, the chancellor of the University of Vancouver Island. The name is Kekinsukes.
“And it should have been important for the prime minister to take the time to visit Kamloops or at least go to Tofino to join Nuu-chah-nalth.”
Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson, who was in Milan on Friday for a meeting ahead of an international climate conference, strongly defended Mr Trudeau’s leave and his record on reconciliation. He said he thinks Canadians will look to Mr Trudeau’s “track record”.
“I find it very unfortunate that people are questioning that commitment,” Wilkinson said.
At an Ottawa news conference on Friday, Health Minister Patty Hajdu did not speak to the likes of Trudeau, saying she could only speak about her own experience of Inauguration Day, which she called “profound”.
“I can’t talk about other people’s scheduling,” Ms Hajdu said. “What I saw in my community was a commitment to reconciliation.”
Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc Kukpi7 (Head) Rosanne Casimir said the First Nation sent two invitations to the prime minister to attend their formal event on Thursday near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.
On Friday, Mr. Wellstead said that the PMO spoke directly to CookP7 Casimir. He said Prime Minister Kukpi7 would arrive to speak directly to Casimir and “we are making arrangements to go to Tekemlapse te Sekwepemak in the near future,” he said. Mr Trudeau’s office, however, did not explain why the prime minister did not attend the event to which he had already been invited.
In a statement on Thursday, the Indian chiefs of the Union of British Columbia called the prime minister’s decision to skip the event an “arrogant dismissal” and a “slap in the face” for the residential-school survivors. “If this incident had happened before the election; Trudeau will be on both knees,” it said.
The mayor said Mr Trudeau has spent years vacationing in Tofino, as locals and other tourists do not care about his appearance.
“People just let people be quiet,” Mr Law said, adding that most of his five children have gone to the prime minister in the past, when they were kayaking or playing in the local park.
On Saturday, the Prime Minister was seen at Chesterman Beach with tourists and locals.
When he got out of the water, he took his yellow surf board back to his beach, and did not answer a reporter’s questions.
Justin Hunter in Tofino, with Rick Cash in Toronto and reports The Canadian Press
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