Indigenous Canadians say Trudeau ‘insulted’ them by ignoring invitation
Toronto, Canada, Oct 7 (EFE).- Canada’s indigenous people Thursday described the absence of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the ceremonies of the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation as an “insult.”
The Sep. 30 event remembered native child victims who were forcibly interned, abused, killed and buried during Canadian public boarding school programs in the late 1800s.
The Tk’emlups Te Secwepemc Indians in western Canada said in a statement that “the lack of response” to the two specific invitations they sent Trudeau to participate in the events “was an added insult.”
The goup said Trudeau “never extended his hand” or sympathies toward the community, when they announced in May 2021 the discovery of hundreds of unidentified graves with the remains of indigenous children on the grounds of a former school residence in the town of Kamloops.
“The Canadian government was the entity that created the institution of school residences and now it is the leaders of the Canadian government who need to work with indigenous peoples to find the path of truth and reconciliation,” the Tk’emlups Te Secwepemc said.
Trudeau’s decision to take a family vacation on the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, which his own government designated as the day to remember atrocities committed against indigenous people, has caused a political storm in the country.
The Prime Minister’s Office initially tried to hide Trudeau’s vacation plans while the rest of the country honored the tens of thousands of indigenous children who were forcibly interned in government institutions where they suffered all kinds of abuse and thousands died.
Only after the media revealed that Trudeau was not in Ottawa – as his official schedule indicated, but on vacation – did his office change his story.
Trudeau spoke Oct. 2 with Rosanne Casimir, head of the Tk’emlups Te Secwepemc, to apologize for his absence from the Sep. 30 ceremonies and publicly acknowledged Wednesday that it was a “mistake” to have gone on vacation that day.
Indigenous Canadians said Thursday they are not interested in empty apologies.
“Reconciliation begins with actions. Real action and change is what is needed to support recovery, the revitalization of our language, culture, traditions and ways of knowing. We are not interested in apologies that do not produce widespread institutional change,” they said in a statement.
The group said Trudeau was twice formally invited to participate in the Sep. 30 ceremonies, but they did not even receive a response. Trudeau also ignored requests to send a recorded message.
The school residences were part of a boarding school system established by the Canadian government in the late 19th century, run by religious orders, to eradicate the country’s indigenous cultures.
Indigenous children were forcibly interned in school residences from an early age. There, children suffered physical, psychological and sexual abuse. An estimated 150,000 children were admitted to these institutions until the last one closed in 1997.
Thousands died in school residences. In many cases, their families were not informed of their deaths. EFE