BC Assembly of First Nations (BCAFN) Regional Chief Terry Teegee said in a statement on Monday in connection with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s visit to Tk’emlups te Secwepemc in Kamloops, B.C., that First Nations leaders’ and community members’ expectations were finally being upheld with his “late arrival.”
He added: “We were all deeply disappointed and hurt when the Prime Minister chose not to observe and attend ceremonies and events for the first National Day of Truth and Reconciliation on September 30; instead travelling to Tofino, BC, with his family for a vacation. Prime Minister Trudeau had been invited multiple times by Kukpi7 Rosanne Casimir to visit the Kamloops Indian Residential School grave sites and was repeatedly ignored. This was not a decision focused on the ideals and aspirations built around reconciliation and instead create a political and social climate loaded with drama and strife.”
Teegee pointed out: “The actions and attitudes of leaders in Canada are critical in their effectiveness and influence in creating change. It is imperative that our leaders be strategic and future-focused and build on each opportunity presented to them to strengthen relationships and further develop trust. It is my expectation that Prime Minister Trudeau and his government will double down on their work toward reconciliation with First Nations.”
He said: “With the recent recoveries of many unmarked graves of children at former residential schools sites, and more to come, many Canadians have made it clear that they want their governments to confront the legacy of colonialism and transform systems of power that reinforce poverty, injustice and genocide.
“I envision innovative and profoundly transformative strategies and policies to fully implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples throughout the nation and all Indigenous peoples must play prominent roles at all levels as we move forward.
“We demand much more substantial actions and resources for the work that needs to be done to recover the truth and build a better future for all Canadians, and we expect no more theatrics, useless gestures and words meant to pacify growing anger and distrust.”