Justin Trudeau to visit B.C. First Nation weeks after Truth and Reconciliation day apology
The prime minister will be visiting a B.C. First Nation next week, after calling a vacation he took in the province on the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation a "mistake."
The nation announced Friday that Justin Trudeau will visit the Kamloops Indian Band, Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc, on Monday.
His agenda for the trip includes a meeting with Kukpi7 (Chief) Rosanne Casimir and others at the nation's pow wow arbour.
During that event, he will meet with a survivor of the Indian Residential School system. Also in attendance will be Kukpi7 Wayne Christian of the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council, and Assembly of First Nations National Chief RoseAnne Archibald.
The visit comes nearly two weeks after Trudeau issued a public apology for a vacation he and his family took in Tofino, B.C., on Sept. 30. He chose the vacation over events he'd been invited to by the Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc that took part on that day.
A public itinerary suggested the prime minister was in meetings, but his office later confirmed he'd been on the West Coast.
He addressed the controversy surrounding the trip last week, saying he regretted the decision.
"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," he said during an announcement on Oct. 6.
At that time, he said he'd spoken to Chief Casimir and apologized for not being there.
A discovery earlier this year in Casimir's nation of Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc was a shock to some, but for others, was evidence backing stories they'd already heard.
Hundreds of unmarked graves were uncovered at the site of the Kamloops Indian Residential School through the use of ground-penetrating radar. Initial estimates suggested there may be as many as 215 graves at the site, and there's still more land to be searched.
The search began in part because of the discovery of a child's rib bone near what used to be an apple orchard. Survivors of the school described children as young as six being woken up during the night to dig graves in the orchard.
A tooth was also located in the area, and a section of land measuring 7,000 square metres was studied.
In an update in July, a specialist said there are still nearly 650,000 square metres to survey before the total number of graves is confirmed at the site that held Canada's largest residential school.
One of the challenges to these estimates is that it's difficult to know if an anomaly is a grave when there's no casket.
While the prime minister was in Tofino, Casimir was speaking at an event meant to honour those who survived the school system, and those who didn't.
At that time, she told reporters that honesty and transparency are key to reconciliation, and called for full disclosure of church and government records related to the schools.
With files from CTVNews.ca and The Canadian Press