Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he regrets his decision to vacation in Tofino, B.C. during the first annual National Day of Truth and Reconciliation.
Trudeau made the announcement publicly during a press conference Wednesday revealing his government’s federal vaccine mandate.
“Travelling on Sept. 30 was a mistake and I regret it,” Trudeau told reporters. “The first National Day of Truth and Reconciliation was a time for Indigenous people and non-Indigenous people alike to reflect and connect, think about the past, but also focus on the future.”
Despite receiving two written invitations from the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc, Trudeau did not attend the band’s ceremony recognizing the day last Thursday and was instead elsewhere in the province on vacation. His itinerary for that day initially said the prime minister would be in private meetings in Ottawa when, in fact, his Challenger jet flew him and his family to the West Coast.
Trudeau’s government passed legislation enacting the statutory holiday this past summer days after the Kamloops band announced it detected signs of 200 probable graves on the grounds of the former Kamloops Residential School.
Asked what made him take the trip on Sept. 30 and if anyone advised him against it, Trudeau did not specify and said "I think the how it happened is far less important than that it happened, which I regret."
Trudeau said on he is committed to visiting the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc community “in the coming weeks” but did not specify a date in which that visit will take place.
Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc Kúkpi7 (Chief) Rosanne Casimir has confirmed she spoke with Trudeau on Saturday, Oct. 2, during which the prime minister apologized for not being in attendance and committed to visiting her community.
The Prime Minister’s Office said Trudeau was with family in Tofino, but spoke by phone to residential school survivors on the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation and attended a ceremony the day before the new federal holiday.
Michael Potestio, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Kamloops This Week