Prime Minister Justin Trudeau‘s decision to spend the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on vacation in Tofino, B.C., is “more proof” that he “does not give a f–k about Indigenous rights,” one national Indigenous organization said on Friday.
Lynn Groulx, the CEO of the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC), made the assertion in a Friday press release, where she cited former NDP MP Romeo Saganash — who once stood up in the House of Commons and said Trudeau “doesn’t give a f–k” about Indigenous rights. Saganash later apologized for the remark.
The organization found out about Trudeau’s Tofino vacation “with shock and dismay,” they said in a press release, especially given Trudeau’s past comments that “no relationship is more important to his government than its relationship with the Indigenous people of this country.”
“Those words ring incredibly hollow when Mr. Trudeau could not take the time that his own government set aside to reflect upon the tragedy of the Indian residential schools and instead chose to flit off to Tofino for a holiday,” Groulx said in the release.
Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc mark National Day of Truth and Reconciliation
Trudeau spent the commemorative holiday in Tofino with his family, despite his official itinerary placing him in private meetings in Ottawa.
The Prime Minister’s Office confirmed the vacation in a statement sent to Global News.
“Yes the PM is spending time in Tofino with family for a few days,” Trudeau’s spokesperson wrote.
“And, following his participation in last night’s ceremony marking the first National Day for Truth & Reconciliation, he is speaking today with residential school survivors from across the country.”
His office later added that the prime minister’s itinerary would be updated to reflect his correct location.
Trudeau also tweeted on Thursday evening that he “spent some time” on the phone with residential school survivors “from across the country” and heard their “advice on the path forward.”
Trudeau had received at least two invitations to spend the day with survivors and their families. Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc, a B.C. First Nation that uncovered the remains of 215 children at a residential school site earlier this year, said they had sent “two heartfelt invitations” to Trudeau.
While Trudeau did end up travelling to B.C. on Thursday, it was to spend the day with family in Tofino, rather than to take the community up on their invitation.
The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is a sombre day intended to honour lost children and survivors of residential schools. The day gives Canadians a chance to reflect on the legacies of the residential school system, colonial policies and the cultural genocide of Indigenous Peoples in Canada.
It was designated by Trudeau’s Liberal government.
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.
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