The Tḱemlúps te Secwépemc First Nation says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau‘s lack of response to attend an event in Kamloops, B.C., to honour the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation was an “added insult.”
“Reconciliation starts with action. Real action and change is needed that supports healing, the revitalization of our language, culture, traditions, and ways of knowing,” the First Nation said in a statement.
“We are not interested in apologies that don’t lead to institutional and widespread change.”
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On Wednesday, Trudeau said his decision to vacation in Tofino, B.C., on the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation was a mistake and said he has apologized directly to the Indigenous community whose invitations he ignored that day.
“Travelling on Sept. 30 was a mistake, and I regret it. This first National Day of Truth and Reconciliation was a time for Indigenous people and non-Indigenous alike to reflect and connect, think about the past but also focus on the future,” he said.
“I want to thank Chief Casimir of Tk’emlúps for the conversation we had over the weekend in which I apologized for not being there with her and her community for this important day.”
In the statement Thursday, the Tḱemlúps te Secwépemc First Nation said they continue to call upon Trudeau to come to Kamloops and witness their collective history and meet with survivors of residential schools.
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“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,” they said.
The nation said it has chosen a date from the other ones Trudeau’s office offered and they look forward to welcoming him for a visit later this month.
“The Canadian government was the entity who created the residential school institution, and it is now the Canadian government’s leadership that is needed to work with Indigenous Peoples to find a path of truth-telling and reconciliation,” the Tḱemlúps te Secwépemc statement added.
“With the acknowledgement of our truths, comes responsibility – both for the caretaker communities and the Canadian government.”
The Tḱemlúps te Secwépemc First Nation said it needs funding for a healing centre in the community to support survivors and intergenerational survivors. They said they would like to see a commitment by the Canadian government to fund this healing centre so “tangible progress towards meaningful reconciliation can happen.”
The Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line (1-866-925-4419) is available 24 hours a day for anyone experiencing pain or distress as a result of their residential school experience.