‘We are not interested in apologies’: BC First Nation tells Trudeau that ‘real action’ is needed

On Wednesday, Trudeau said he regrets the mistake of traveling to BC to join his holiday family in Tofino on the day in honor of survivors of continuing education

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KAMLOOPS, BC – Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “missed an opportunity” to show his commitment to the survivors of residential schools by not responding to his invitations to attend an event that marks the first national day of Truth and Reconciliation.

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A statement Thursday from First Nation in Kamloops, BC, said the lack of response to two letters was “an added insult”, but it looks forward to welcoming Trudeau into the community later this month.

It added that Trudeau’s presence would have shown the world his personal commitment to “implementing real change and correcting the historical flaws” in the residential school system and personally supporting grieving survivors of the Indian Residential School.

It says the Canadian government set up residential schools and its leadership is needed “to work with indigenous peoples to find a path to truthfulness and reconciliation.”

The statement said his attendance would have been a “recognition” for all survivors, their families and communities, adding that “a clear public gesture would have brought peace to many.”

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On Wednesday, Trudeau said he regrets the mistake of traveling to BC to join his holiday family in Tofino on the day in honor of survivors of the housing school system.

The First Nation says that “real action and change” is needed that supports the healing and revitalization of their language, culture and traditions.

“We are not interested in excuses that do not lead to institutional and comprehensive change.”

The Prime Minister’s Office said in a brief statement on Thursday that Trudeau and Tk’emlups te Secwepemc chief Rosanne Casimir had talked about the path to reconciliation.

It added that Trudeau and Casimir had previously spoken after finding more than 200 unmarked graves at the site of the former housing school.

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Trudeau’s office said on Sunday that the prime minister had spoken to the head of Tk’emlups te Secwepemc Nation on Saturday and apologized for not accepting invitations to mark September 30 in the community.

The First Nation said it wants funding for a health center to support survivors of residential schools as well as to be provided with the school’s attendance records by the federal government, which can help identify remains found at the site as well as other missing children.

Native leaders have previously shared their frustration over the Prime Minister’s decision to go on holiday on National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

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