Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologized today for travelling for a family vacation to Tofino, B.C., last Thursday on the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, saying the decision was a mistake.
“Travelling on the 30th was a mistake and I regret it,” he told reporters during his first public appearance since the trip.
He called the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation “an important moment for all of us — Indigenous and non-Indigenous — to reflect and to remember.”
Trudeau has faced sharp criticism over his decision to travel. While his official itinerary said he would be in “private meetings” in Ottawa that day, it was later updated to reflect the fact he was in Tofino.
His office noted that the prime minister spoke at a sombre ceremony on Parliament Hill Wednesday night, where residential school survivors shared stories of intense trauma. Trudeau also tweeted that he spoke by phone with survivors “from across the country.”
When asked why he went on the trip — and whether he was advised not to — Trudeau said “the ‘how it happened’ is far less important than that it happened, which I regret.”
“We will continue to do even more on the path of reconciliation, whether it’s continuing to eliminate long-term boil water advisories, whether it’s making sure there’s better investments in housing and support for kids going to new and better schools across the country in Indigenous communities,” he said.
PM promises to visit Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc soon
Trudeau repeated his apology to Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc Kukpi7 (Chief) Rosanne Casimir, expressing regret for not visiting her community to mark Canada’s first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, despite multiple offers.
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 nation held an event Thursday that was attended by, among others, Assembly of First Nations National Chief RoseAnne Archibald and B.C. Solicitor General Mike Farnworth.
On Sunday, the First Nation said Trudeau apologized for not following up on invitations to visit the community.
“I’d like to thank Chief Casimir for taking my call this weekend so I could apologize directly for not being with her and her community on that day. I’m focused on making this right,” Trudeau said.
“I’m looking forward to visiting Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc in person very soon.”
The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation was created through a law proposed and passed by the Liberal government back in June.
| Trudeau says ‘it was a mistake to travel’ on National Truth and Reconciliation Day