Trudeau apologizes to B.C. First Nation after travelling to Tofino beach house on first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has apologized to Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc Kukpi7 (chief) Rosanne Casimir after visiting Tofino Beach House instead of attending public events during Canada’s National Day of Truth and Reconciliation.

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The British Columbia First Nation sent Mr Trudeau two invitations to attend their formal event on Thursday near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.

Alex Wellstead, a spokesman for the prime minister’s office, said on Sunday that Mr Trudeau reached out to Kukpi7 Casimir and the two spoke on the phone on Saturday. Mr Wellstead said Trudeau offered an apology, but the prime minister’s office did not provide further details about the nature of the apology.

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Mr Wellstead said the Prime Minister looked forward to visiting the community soon.

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Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc confirmed on Sunday that Mr Trudeau had apologized to Kukpi7 Casimir on Saturday.

Thursday was the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, a federal statutory holiday based on the 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendation in the history of residential schools in Canada.

The commission said such a day would “respect the living people, their families and communities, and ensure that the public commemoration of the history and heritage of residential schools remains an important component of the reconciliation process.”

The remains of nearly 200 children were discovered at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in late May, with several finds at other former residential school sites.

Mr Trudeau went to a related event on Wednesday evening, but did not attend any events on the official day. His itinerary said he was in Ottawa that day, but his office later confirmed that he had traveled to Tofino with the family. His itinerary for Sunday said he stayed in Tofino for “personal” time. His office declined to say how long Mr Trudeau would be on leave.

Indigenous leaders across the country have strongly criticized the prime minister’s decision not to attend any events on Thursday and for the fact that he flew directly over Kamloops, at a ceremony near the spot where he were invited to participate where previously unmarked graves were discovered. Year.

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The Indian chiefs of the Union of British Columbia said in a statement on Thursday that Mr Trudeau’s decision not to attend the program was an “arrogant dismissal” and a “slap in the face” for the residential-school survivors.

Mr Trudeau’s apology was first reported by CBC News on Sunday.

Liberal Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominique LeBlanc defended the government’s approach to Indigenous issues on Sunday during an interview with CBC News.

He said, “The prime minister spoke with the chief in Kamloops over the weekend and he also spoke with survivors of residential schools sometime on Thursday to better understand the way forward, and how the government can be a valuable partner. Yes, his thoughts on it.” . “The prime minister took part in a solemn ceremony on Wednesday evening in Ottawa to mark the first National Truth and Reconciliation Day, something that our government clearly brought. On Thursday, he also spoke to several survivors of residential schools. We certainly believe that the commitment to reconciliation is deep and shared by all members of our government. “

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