Ottawa – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau faced criticism Friday over his decision to move to British Columbia to spend time with his family on the first National Day of Truth and Reconciliation.
The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) said it was shocking that Trudeau “completely dropped out” from 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 appalled by the “sheer level” of Trudeau’s decision to travel to B.C. instead of attending events marking the historic day.
He said it showed “what the First Nations, Métis and Inuit people have endured as a result of colonization.”
The prime minister flew Thursday to Tofino, BC, where Global News filmed him walking on a beach at one point, refusing to comment.
Later on Thursday, Trudeau tweeted that he spent some time that day holding telephone conversations with Canadian residential school survivors, “hearing their stories and seeking their advice on the way forward”.
Prime Minister’s spokesman Alex Wellstead said 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 an important occasion.”
Thursday was marked as the inaugural National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, created this spring in response to one of 94 calls to action by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which established government-funded First Nations , Métis and had documented atrocities committed against Inuit children. , a residential school run by the church for more than a century.
The day was already known as Orange Shirt Day, in honor of the experience of Phyllis Webstad from Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation in BC, whose gift of clothing was snatched from her grandmother on her first day at a residential school. had gone .
Groulx said in the statement that while Trudeau was not in the public eye, millions of others across the country wore orange shirts, spoke on social media and participated in celebrations that “demonstrated the dark history of Canada’s treatment of indigenous peoples and ” Shows. What needs to be improved?”
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-Nalth 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’s on vacation and wants some time off, but he should have preferred the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. It’s huge for us and for us here. It’s a really important day.” It was,” Sayers said.
“I always contemplate 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 through with actions.”
Health Minister Patty Hajdu, who said she attended a ceremony commemorating the day in her constituency, Thunder Bay, Ont., declined to answer questions about Trudeau’s visit on Friday.
“I can’t talk about other people’s scheduling,” Hajdu said. “What I saw in my community was a commitment to reconciliation.”
“For me, it’s hard to put into words how far that day was going,” she told a news conference in Ottawa on Friday, “and how much it is to see so many citizens meet indigenous people and hear stories.” Exciting that I’m definitely something people have never heard of before.”
Metis leader and newly elected NDP MP for Edmonton Grisbach, Blake DesJarlis, said Trudeau’s actions raised public 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 earlier said he was in “private meetings” in Ottawa on Thursday, though it was later changed to reflect his actual location.
A 75-year-old survivor, who spoke to Trudeau on Thursday, “never thought in his lifetime to hold the PM’s ear to talk about what he was going through as a kid,” said his counselor, Sharna Sugarman. According.
Sugarman said the man told her he was upset by the media coverage focusing on the prime minister’s family visit to Tofino, rather than issues of truth and reconciliation.
Sugarman, a Blackfoot survivor of the ‘sixties scoop whose parents and grandparents went to residential schools, defended Trudeau’s decision to spend time with his children. She said she has a track record of fighting for the indigenous people.
“In my opinion, the PM has done his job, and if it were not for his government, (September 30) would not have been marked as a day of mourning and reflection. It is not a holiday,” she said.
“He has made a lot of promises to my people. Is she perfect? No, no one is perfect except the newborn.”
Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson, who was in Italy for the global environmental talks on Thursday, said the prime minister has made it clear that nothing is more important to the government than its relationship with indigenous peoples.
“He has spoken with survivors across the country,” he said. “I know how much it means to him.”
Groulx said 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’s (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.
Conservative MP Frank Caputo of Kamloops-Thompson-Caribou wrote a letter to Trudeau on Friday asking why he had not visited the site of the former residential school in Kamloops, B.C., where Tk’Amlops Te Secwepemak First Nation earlier this year said Was. A penetrating radar is located which is believed to contain the remains of 215 indigenous children in unmarked graves.
“Despite being in the province and only a short walk from the former Kamloops Indian Residential School, you have chosen this important day to leave,” he wrote.
On Thursday, Rosanne Casimir, chief of Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation, said the community had twice invited Trudeau to join the residential school survivors and their families.
With files from Nick Wells in Vancouver and Mia Rabson in Ottawa.
by Mary Woolf
This News Originally From – The Epoch Times