Leadership of the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc Nation said Thursday they are “not interested” in further apologies from the federal government after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ignored the community’s invitations to visit on the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation last week.

The community has instead called on Ottawa to commit to funding a new healing centre to support residential school survivors and their families, “so that tangible progress toward meaningful reconciliation can happen.”

“Real action and change is needed that supports healing, the revitalization of our language, culture, traditions, and ways of knowing. We are not interested in apologies that don’t lead to institutional and widespread change,” read a statement released Thursday.

Trudeau has been sharply criticized for his decision to spend the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation vacationing with his family in Tofino, B.C., despite multiple invitations from Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc to mark the day with their community.

Trudeau apologized publicly Wednesday and described the decision as a “mistake.” He spoke to Kukpi7 (Chief) Rosanne Casimir on Sunday to offer her a personal apology.

The community said Thursday its two letters inviting Trudeau to visit the community on Sept. 30 both went unacknowledged.

It said the prime minister also ignored an alternative offer to film a video address to be played during the ceremony at the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc Powwow Arbour.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks at a news conference in Ottawa on Oct. 6, during which he said a decision to travel to Tofino, B.C., on the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation was a ‘mistake.’ (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press) Trudeau to visit later this month, nation says

Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc Nation is near the site of the former residential school in Kamloops, B.C., where about 200 possible unmarked burial sites were detected by a radar survey this spring. 

“The lack of response to our invitations was an added insult, as he never extended his personal hand of sympathy to our community once he heard the official announcement on May 27,” the nation’s statement said.

Leaders said Trudeau has now scheduled a visit later this month, after his office offered a number of dates for the nation to choose from. The statement said the day should be focused on healing, rather than repairing the prime minister’s image.

“The focus of this visit needs to be on the real issues of reconciliation, not a media event to compensate for his lack of participation on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation,” it said.

WATCH | Trudeau says ‘it was a mistake to travel’ on National Day for Truth and Reconciliation:Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says ‘it was a mistake to travel’ on National Truth and Reconciliation DayResponding to questions about his decision to travel on the first National Truth and Reconciliation Day, Trudeau says it was a mistake and vows to work to make amends. 1:08

Trudeau told reporters Wednesday he was “looking forward” to visiting Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc in person very soon.

The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation was created through a law proposed and passed by the Liberal government in June. 

Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc Nation also repeated its call on the federal government and the Catholic Church to release attendance records of all students forced to attend the Kamloops Indian Residential School.


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