Prime Minister Justin Trudeau snubbed two letters inviting him to attend Truth and Reconciliation Day in Kamloops, says the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc [Kamloops] First Nation, where more than 200 unmarked graves of children at a former residential school were recently discovered.
The Nation issued a statement yesterday after Trudeau's vacationing in Tofino.
“No words can express the level of grief and sorrow that the confirmation of unmarked graves of missing children from the Kamloops Indian Residential School and other residential schools have brought to Indigenous people across the country,” the statement said. “We need to work collectively to give Le Estcwéý (the missing) the dignity they never had.”
The Tḱemlúps te Secwépemc had planned an event to honour the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, where the PM was invited to attend. However, the band claims they were not responded to, calling it an “an added insult.”
“His presence would have exhibited to the world his personal commitment to enacting real change and rectifying the historical wrongs of the residential school system and to personally support grieving Indian residential school survivors,” the statement said. “The lack of response to our invitations was an added insult, as he never extended his personal hand of sympathy to our community once he heard the official announcement (on May 27.)”
The Tḱemlúps te Secwépemc has called on the federal government to establish a healing centre in Kamloops to help survivors and the intergenerational trauma caused by residential schools. They are also demanding documents from the federal government.
“Those primary documents, currently within the custody of the Canadian government, will be of critical importance to identify those lost children,” the statement said.
Tḱemlúps te Secwépemc is set to meet with Trudeau later this month .
“The focus of this visit needs to be on the real issues of reconciliation not a media event to compensate for his lack of participation on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.”
“Travelling on Sept. 30 was a mistake, and I regret it,” Trudeau said during a news conference with respect to his vacationing incident.
Trudeau’s office said Sunday the PM spoke with Tḱemlúps te Secwepemc Nation Chief Rosanne Casimir on Saturday to apologize.