‘Ready to partner’: Trudeau makes his first visit to Tk’emlups te Secwepemc in Kamloops, BC | The Canadian News

Warning: this story deals with a disturbing topic that may upset and unsettle some readers. Discretion Advised.

After turning down invitations from First Nations on National Truth and Reconciliation Day, Justin Trudeau visited Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc for the first time on Monday.

The elders, Kukpi7 Rosanne Casimir and the guests participated in the ceremony, honoring the survivors of the residential school and the children who never made it home, before inviting the prime minister to speak.

When he did, he said Canada was “ready to partner” in reconciliation.

“We will be there with everything necessary to be able to achieve closure, to advance throughout the country.”

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Canada Needs ‘Support’: Message on Truth and Reconciliation from Kamloops, BC

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Trudeau faced significant backlash for vacationing in Tofino, BC instead of accepting “heartfelt” invitations from the community to attend the September 30 ceremonies at the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc Powwow Arbor.

He had spoken to some residential school survivors on the phone the night before and attended a ceremony on Parliament Hill, but he apologized for making the trip to Tofino and called the decision a “mistake.”

Again on Monday, he said he regretted “deeply” that choice.

“I am deeply grateful to Kukpi7 Casimir for having me here today,” he said. “After September 30, he could have chosen to turn his back on me and the federal government … and yet he came over and said, ‘Please come, listen and learn, and we will walk this path together.'” .

Click to play video: 'PM Trudeau to visit indigenous leaders in Kamloops'

Prime Minister Trudeau to visit indigenous leaders in Kamloops

Prime Minister Trudeau to visit indigenous leaders in Kamloops

Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc sent shockwaves of anger and grief across the country in May when it announced that the remains of 215 children had been found in an unmarked cemetery at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in BC.

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Other First Nations searched their own former residential school sites with ground penetrating radar, revealing that more than 1,000 children had been buried. The Cowessess First Nation in Saskatchewan located 751 children.

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Canada Needs ‘Support’: Message on Truth and Reconciliation from Kamloops, BC

In the months that followed, Trudeau announced that Canada would celebrate its first National Truth and Reconciliation Day, six years after the Truth and Reconciliation Commission first convened it.

After his trip to Tofino, Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc issued a statement saying it was not interested in “apologies that do not lead to widespread institutional change”.

When asked if he thought the First Nation accepted his apology, Trudeau replied:

“Words do matter and with an apology acknowledging the harm that was caused is an important first step toward healing, toward restitution, toward good. But it’s not just about words, it’s about actions. “

Click to play video: 'Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc marks the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation'

Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc commemorate the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation

Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc commemorates the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation – September 30, 2021

Since then, Kukpi7 Casimir has called on the federal government and the Catholic Church to provide “unrestricted” access to all documents related to the residential school system and to commit to significant funding and action to address its damages.

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Canada’s residential school system was in effect from the late 19th century through the mid-1990s and sought to “eliminate parental involvement in the intellectual, cultural and spiritual development” of indigenous children, according to the Truth and Information Commission. Reconciliation.

State and church-run institutions forcibly removed more than 150,000 First Nations, Métis and Inuit children from their families and placed them in schools where many were physically, sexually and spiritually abused by their caregivers. . Many also starved to death as part of scientific experiments on the effects of malnutrition.

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Trudeau says Tofino’s vacation was a ‘mistake’

Thousands of people died in the heartbreaking assimilation system, sparking intergenerational trauma that has had a profound and lasting impact on survivors, their children, their families and communities.

In 2015, the TRC found Canada guilty of “cultural genocide” and, to this day, governments have failed in many ways to meaningfully repair or compensate for lasting damage.

The Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line (1-866-925-4419) is available 24 hours a day to anyone experiencing pain or distress as a result of their residential school experience.

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