As Canada mourns the deaths of Indigenous youth, Justin Trudeau goes surfing
Orange shirts were worn across Canada on Thursday as the country observed a national day of mourning for Indigenous children – but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau went surfing.
Trudeau has apologized for taking the vacation to Tofino – Byron’s Bay in Canada – the day his own government set aside to honor more than a thousand anonymous graves found in residential schools across the country.
He also apologized for choosing not to attend the local First Nations reconciliation ceremony at his Tofino vacation spot, a major misstep for a leader still shaking up blackface scandals and sacking. an aboriginal minister.
This is a bad look in a country where indigenous peoples are, compared to Australia, well and truly a part of the national and political conversation. Dozens of treaties were signed with the First Nations peoples of Canada, and several before the Confederation of Canada are still active today. Indeed, Australia remains the only Commonwealth country to have never signed a treaty with its indigenous peoples.
Canada has in fact recognized First Nations peoples in its constitution, so provincial governments must consult with Indigenous Canadians and protect their rights when they may be affected by proposed legislation. In 1993, Indigenous peoples were even given the right to shape their own forms of government – called the Indigenous Right to Self-Government Policy – so that Indigenous communities could control the administration of their people, their lands, their resources and related programs and policies.
When more than 1,300 anonymous graves of Indigenous children were discovered in dozens of former residential schools (government-sponsored religious schools established to assimilate Indigenous children into Euro-Canadian culture), Canadians were devastated.
Dozens of small shoes lined the steps of government buildings, schools and churches across the country to represent dead children, while picket signs mourning the monumental loss of life have appeared and remain, even now, on many lawns. . Many Canadian flags remain at half mast months later.
The Trudeau government has pledged immediate funding of C $ 27 million to the National Center for Truth and Reconciliation to identify anonymous graves and launched the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Falling September 30, it was a day of solemn mourning when many Canadians donned orange shirts to represent an Indigenous girl named Phyllis who was forced to retire her from a residential school in the 1970s. The last Indigenous residential school in Canada closed in 1996.
Trudeau’s decision to take a trip – flying the government’s Bombardier Challenger plane, no less – on that day is an infamously familiar story for Australians who still roll their eyes at Prime Minister Scott’s travel itinerary. Morrison in recent years.
Deafness was not enough to describe the Prime Minister’s vacation in Hawaii as Australia experienced its worst bushfire crisis of 2019-2020. Morrison’s various ancestral jaunts across the UK in June while attending the G7 summit sparked fury as at least 38,000 Australians were stranded abroad, unable to return home in the middle strict COVID-19 flight caps and border closures.
Trudeau, shaken by the scandal, telephoned the leader of the Tk’emlúps nation, Rosanne Casimir, and offered her an apology, his office confirmed.
“And, following his participation in [Wednesday] Ceremony on the night to mark the first National Truth and Reconciliation Day, he speaks… with residential school survivors from across the country, ”said a spokesperson.
But critics were quick to point out that Trudeau had yet to visit the burial site of the former Kamloops residential school in British Columbia, where more than 200 anonymous graves of Indigenous children were discovered earlier this year. year.
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs called the Prime Minister’s vacation a “slap in the face” for the families of residential school victims.
It’s a blow to Trudeau’s “good guy” image – the son of beloved former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, Justin has long tried to shake off his reputation as a silver spoon.
Don Martin, a well-known television host in Canada, put it bluntly: “You couldn’t have created a higher aura of entitlement to the upper crust if Trudeau had jumped on a pony for a polo match before. to go with the dogs for a little while. Fox hunting “.