Justin Trudeau has returned to Ottawa after his failure to show up at any events on Truth and Reconciliation Day, has sparked an unprecedented wave of criticism from Aboriginal spokespersons across Canada. The fallout continued over the weekend and into this week.
Yesterday, National Chief Roseanne Archibald, Assembly of First Nations. Issued a release that read, “As I stated to the Catholic Church, hollow apologies will no longer be accepted. As National Chief, on behalf of all First Nations I expect concrete actions and changed behaviours. The Prime Minister must demonstrate through actions that he is committed to the healing path forward.
Let’s remember Truth and Reconciliation is about Survivors and those children who died in the institutions of assimilation and genocide. Therefore, I asked media outlets to give as much time to Survivor’s stories as they are giving to the Prime Minister’s behaviour September 30.”
Last Thursday, as he flew to Tofino B.C. Trudeau issued a statement that read in part, “On behalf of the Government of Canada, I encourage all Canadians to take this opportunity to learn more about the history of residential schools in Canada, listen to the stories of survivors and their families, and reflect on how each of us can play a part in the journey of reconciliation. I also encourage everyone to wear an orange shirt today to help spread awareness, because every child matters.”
While Trudeau was in Tofino local indigenous and non-indigenous residents participated in Truth and Reconciliation observances. Commenting on Trudeau’s absence from the events Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council vice president Mariah Charleson said, “today, what I experienced was watching survivors tell their stories. I wish that he (Trudeau) could have been there. I think he would have learned a lot in participating and being present, opening his heart, opening his mind, but it speaks volumes the fact that he’s in Tla-o-qui-aht territory and hasn’t acknowledged the significance of what today means to this community and surrounding communities…He could have chosen today to make a huge statement and to be there to witness, to listen, to open his heart and open his mind to the survivors’ stories.”