Trudeau returns from trip to Tofino after facing backlash for taking holiday on National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau returned to Ottawa on Monday after a holiday in Tofino, B.C., that generated criticism from Indigenous leaders and opposition parties as it began Thursday, the inaugural National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

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Over the weekend, Mr Trudeau spoke to Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc Kukpi7 (chief) Rosanne Casimir to apologize, according to Prime Minister’s Office spokesman Alex Velstad. The PMO did not give any details about the nature of the talks between them.

When asked on Monday whether Mr Trudeau would issue a public apology about his decision? To commemorate the National Day, which honors those attending residential schools, PMO said it had nothing to do with Ms Casimir’s remarks.

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The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation was created by Mr Trudeau’s liberal government. Since forming the government for the first time in 2015, he has ensured that his relationships with indigenous peoples are a top priority.

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Last week, The Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation said the prime minister did not respond to an invitation to attend a ceremony near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School where nearly 200 unmarked graves were located after a radar search earlier this year. Mr Trudeau plans to visit Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc soon, Mr Wellstad said on Sunday.

Lynn Groulx, chief executive of the Federation of Native Women of Canada, said Trudeau needed to offer a broad apology to Canadians. Their visit clearly “missed the mark,” she said, and was a grave error in judgment in a day that many Canadians spent reflecting on the legacy of the country’s residential schools. Indigenous children were abused in institutions, and thousands of them died.

“I don’t think there’s an excuse for that,” Ms Groulx said. “There are thousands and thousands left. He needs to talk to the people.”

The Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, which represents the interests of Métis, Southern Inuit, status Indians and non-status Indians, also said on Monday that Mr Trudeau would be issued a more general apology for the holidays during the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation. Should do

The Prime Minister attended a reconciliation event on Parliament Hill in the evening before the National Day and then flew to Tofino. His public itinerary did not say that he was visiting the popular BC tourist destination. Instead, he said he was holding private meetings in Ottawa. The PMO later said Mr Trudeau spoke to eight survivors of residential schools on Thursday.

Mr Trudeau has previously been to Tofino, where residents usually leave him alone on the beach. But when controversy swirled around him this weekend, locals expressed disappointment that he did not attend any event there to mark the national day.

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Ms Groulx said it was “shocking” that none of the prime minister’s staff alerted her to the fact that it would be wrong for her to travel in the eyes of indigenous communities.

Natan Obed, president of Inuit Tapirit Kanatami, a national organization that aims to protect and advance the rights and interests of Inuit in Canada, said on Monday that he did not want to give any opinion on what the prime minister should do on any issue. needed. Day.

He said the response to the prime minister’s visit shows that “Canadians expect more from politicians with respect to reconciliation,” and they will hold leaders accountable for not meeting those expectations.

“I hope that in future years this special day will be met with Indigenous leadership and a genuine connection with survivors and their families that is a shared path,” he said. “That’s really what we’re asking for in this reconciliation journey, it’s a common path.”

Mr. Obed said the public’s reaction A “development”, saying he doesn’t believe anyone would worry about what a politician did five or six years ago on National Remembrance Day for Indigenous people as well.

“More and more Canadians are understanding these big issues like residential schools,” Mr. Obed said.

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He said he hoped the incident with Mr Trudeau “has a positive impact on the priority of the reconciliation work that lies ahead of us.”

With reports from Justin Hunter in Tofino, BC and Bill Curry in Ottawa

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