Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reached out to the head of Tk’emlúps te Secwepemc First Nation on Saturday and apologized for not responding to an invitation to visit the community, his press secretary confirmed on Sunday.
Ann-Clara Vaylancourt told 680 News “he arrived” [Saturday]Spoke with the chief, apologized, discussed the way forward and look forward to visiting the community soon. “
Trudeau faced severe backlash when it was revealed that he was holidaying in Tofino, the country’s first National Truth and Reconciliation Day, instead of attending memorial events.
On Thursday Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation chief Rosanne Casimir said the community had twice invited Trudeau to join residential school survivors and their families and had not heard back. Earlier this year, First Nation used ground-penetrating radar and what is believed to be the remains of 215 indigenous children in unmarked graves at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.
Later on Thursday, Trudeau tweeted that he spent some time that day in telephone conversations with residential school survivors across Canada, “hearing their stories and seeking their advice on the way forward.”
Alex Wellstead, a spokesman for the prime minister, said on Friday that Trudeau “spoke with eight residential school survivors across the country over several hours yesterday. It was an opportunity to hear their stories of trauma and healing and to hear their advice on the path forward.” It was a momentous occasion.”
Trudeau attended a ceremony on Wednesday night near the Centennial Flame on Parliament Hill, where stuffed toys and pairs of children’s shoes were left in honor of children who never returned from residential schools.
Judith Sayers, president of the Nuu-Chah-Nulth Tribal Council on Vancouver Island, which includes the Tofino area, said Friday that the organization had not heard from Trudeau and had no idea he was going to be in the area on Thursday. He said that he could have joined Nuu-chah-nulth in Tofino for a few brief remarks and left.
“I understand he is on leave and wants some time off, but he should have preferred the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. It is huge for us here. It was a really important day,” Sayers said. “I always ponder how Trudeau says indigenous people are the most important relationship but he doesn’t show it. He always says nice things, but doesn’t follow up with action.”
Metis leader and newly elected NDP MP for Edmonton Grisbach, Blake DesJarlis, said Trudeau’s actions raised people’s perception that Thursday was “a family day” rather than a day for serious reflection about the treatment of indigenous peoples .
“The first day needs a precedent,” Desjarlais said. “It is difficult to imagine the future of 30 September without the Prime Minister’s condolences, presence and messages.”
Trudeau’s daily public travel schedule previously said he was in “private meetings” in Ottawa on Thursday, though it was later changed to reflect his actual location.
The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) said it was shocking that Trudeau “completely opted out” of a national day set aside to reflect the legacy of residential schools.
Lynn Groulx, the head of a political advocacy organization for Indigenous women, said in a statement that she was amazed by the “sheer level of apathy” Trudeau displayed.
Groulx said that Trudeau’s decision to “fly to Tofino for vacation” rather than “take time apart for his government to reflect on the tragedy of Indian residential schools” gave the impression that he took the issue seriously. Not Taken.
“It’s almost as if he checked one of the TRC (Truth and Reconciliation Commission) actions by declaring a statutory holiday, and then wiped his hands and said ‘work done, let’s move on,'” he added.