Oct 18, 2021
Canada PM Justin Trudeau Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc Speech Transcript
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke at the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc nation on October 18, 2021 about the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Read the transcript of his remarks to the press here.
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Rosanne Casimir: (00:06)
Well, thank you for everyone joining us today and your willingness to amplify our truth. My intent today is to uphold the words of my ancestors of their belief that we must seek resolution to ensure the best outcomes for all. We do this because we understand that we are all interconnected, that what we do affects all of us and what we do affects all of you.
Rosanne Casimir: (00:43)
I reflect on what our past chiefs brought up when Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier back in 1910, “We welcome you here and we are glad we have met you in our country. We want you to be interested in us and to understand more fully the conditions under which we live. So long as what we consider justice is withheld from us, so long will that dissatisfaction, unrest exist among us, we will continue to struggle to better ourselves.” I honor our ancestors by breathing life into a vision of a flourishing community, unrelenting in the quest for the wellbeing of current and future generations. I share these reflections so that you may have some understanding through the lens through which we view today.
Rosanne Casimir: (01:54)
A part of our vision for a flourishing community, we are seeking a path forward, justice for the missing children in unmarked graves in our care, healing for Indian residential school survivors and intergenerational survivors, further reclamation of first nation languages, cultures and ways of being.
Rosanne Casimir: (02:26)
Since May 26th, the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc has carried a heavy burden when we brought forward the confirmation of the unmarked graves of missing children from the Kamloops Indian Residential School. These missing children, buried just a short distance from here, exemplify Indian residential school system that perpetuated mass human rights violations that might reflect criminal behavior, including and suggesting violations of humanitarian law and genocide.
Rosanne Casimir: (03:05)
Welcoming Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc today is bittersweet. When we imagined welcoming Prime Minister Trudeau to our community, it was envisioned that it would be an opportunity for him to interact with a wide array of survivors, intergenerational survivors and many different first nations as part of September the 30th, the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Two letters of invitation were sent to his office to participate in our event. For us, it was to show his commitment to rectifying the historical wrongs of residential school and to grieve with our residential school survivors, whether in person or by a virtual pre-recorded greeting and message for all of us here.
Rosanne Casimir: (04:03)
Instead, in the middle of truth-telling, cultural grounding and sharing that unfolded as part of the commemoration of the very first National Day of Truth and Reconciliation, in this arbor, a journalist quietly informed us that the Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was on vacation in Tofino. The shock, anger, and sorrow and disbelief was palpable in our community and it rippled throughout the world to say, the least.
Rosanne Casimir: (04:36)
Today is about making some positive steps forward and rectifying a mistake. We wanted to ensure that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited what we refer to as a sacred site, the unmarked burial sites of the confirmed missing children from the Kamloops Indian Residential School. It was a long awaited moment to receive a personal hand of recognition and sympathy regarding this horrific confirmation of unmarked graves from the Canadian Head of State.
Rosanne Casimir: (05:16)
I appreciate the opportunity that we had earlier today to spend time in ceremony with the [foreign language 00:05:23], the missing. Out of deep love and respect for the missing children in our care, we refer to them as the [foreign language 00:05:34], which means the missing in [foreign language 00:05:38]. Our community continues to navigate the complexities of the impacts following the horrific confirmation of the [foreign language 00:05:49]. Tk’emlups te Secwepemc’s heart-wrenching news was the first of the wave of confirmations of unmarked graves as other residential schools have now confirmed similar findings, with more that we know will be coming to light.
Rosanne Casimir: (06:08)
We have been clear in our needs to undertake this very important work that honors the [foreign language 00:06:15] and will hopefully bring comfort to their families and their home communities. We continue to advocate for full, unfettered access to student attendance records.
Rosanne Casimir: (06:29)
We also recognize the urgent need for a Secwepemc healing center. We need the capacity to ensure the resources and technical expertise to complete the work of identifying all the [foreign language 00:06:45] in our care as we have only completed a small portion of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School grounds. Each of these will directly contribute to the current and future wellbeing of our community members and are each aspects that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has to support towards affecting real change.
Rosanne Casimir: (07:15)
The Tk’emlups te Secwepemc seeks peaceful resolution to a long legacy of wrongs that were perpetuated through the Indian residential school. In particular, we seek to bring honor and dignity to the children that were literally cast aside in unmarked burial sites.
Rosanne Casimir: (07:35)
Prime Minister Trudeau, as your office just finished an election, now is the time to commit to the long road ahead to bring healing, peace and restitution to all affected by Indian residential schools. [foreign language 00:07:54].
Speaker 1: (07:55)
[foreign language 00:07:55] Kukpi7 Rosanne Casimir At this time, I welcome Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for his remarks.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (08:15)
[foreign language 00:08:15]. Thank you very much for being here today. [foreign language 00:08:18].
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (08:19)
First, I want to, again, thank Kukpi7 Casimir for welcoming me to come to Tk’emlups te Secwepemc. I had the opportunity this morning to apologize to her and to the community in person for not having been here on September 30th. This morning, we had an important and necessary conversation about how we, not just as Canadians, but as an entire country move forward given the reality of residential schools and the ongoing tragedy that continues to color, not just our past, not just our present, but unfortunately also our future.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (09:08)
This morning, I was reminded of sitting in the same community center, the same place that I had visited just before the election in 2015, where I first learned of the memorial presented to Wilfrid Laurier back in 1910. That sketched out a path of, it wasn’t called reconciliation then, but a path forward for the country that would see indigenous and non-indigenous people share and partner and build a better future for everyone. As we know, that was not the story of the 20th century in terms of-
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (10:03)
Not the story of the 20th century in terms of relations with indigenous peoples and the government. Instead, it was a story of residential schools, of kids ripped from their families, taken from their communities, prevented from learning their languages, their cultures, made to suffer neglect, loneliness, and abuse, experience from which far too many never got to return home to their families, and then left instead in unmarked graves across this country. I want to salute the leadership of Kúkpi7 Casimir and the Council and the knowledge keepers who tended that sacred sight, who knew that there were children waiting to be found.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (11:12)
People had heard the stories. People had seen their loved ones, their children, their cousins, their friends disappear. The truth needed to be told. So through the leadership of this community and other communities across the country, Canada has begun to face the reality of the truth of this country, that we allowed kids to be taken from their language and culture, neglected and abused. And that is not just a piece of our past that we need to reflect on. It is a piece of our present. We see it in the struggles that are faced by indigenous Canadians to a much higher degree than non-indigenous Canadians.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (12:24)
I am moved to see so much interest from non-indigenous Canadians and the media and people across the country who were so shaken by the revelation of these graves, because before we can get to reconciliation, we need to talk about truth. And the truth of what these children experienced decades and generations ago lingers today has an impact today in systemic discrimination, in tragedies, in our cities, in our institutions as was faced by Joyce Echaquan and so many others. The lived reality from so many Canadians of residential schools continues, and we cannot pretend that reconciliation is just about indigenous peoples and the government, although, of course, that’s an important part of it.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (13:50)
Reconciliation is also about every single Canadian, because every single Canadian, while residential schools were teaching indigenous kids that they had no value, every other school was teaching non-indigenous kids that indigenous languages and cultures had no value. So it is upon all of us to walk this road of reconciliation together, is on all of us to be present and to commit to the hard work that needs to be done. I am here today to say I wish I had been here a few weeks ago and I deeply regret it. But I am here today to take the hand extended by the Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc and so many indigenous Canadians across this country who have every reason in the world to feel pessimistic and bleak about future and instead choose hope, choose to continue to be present for the hard work, ready to partner and make a better community and a better life, not just for indigenous peoples, but for everyone who lives here. And that readiness to build and partner and work together is an inspiration to me and should be an inspiration to all Canadians as we work every day to make Canada better for everyone. [foreign language 00:15:56] leadership [foreign language 00:16:22] Thank you very much for being here today. [foreign language 00:16:25]
Speaker 2: (16:31)
[foreign language 00:16:31] Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Thank you, [foreign language 00:16:36] to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. At this time, we’re going to go to questions. As I said, for media present, it is over here to the left. The line can start over here. While we’re getting media coming to the microphone, I’m going to go first. Online, the first question is from Dylan Robertson of the Winnipeg Free Press with a question for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. First nation spans in Manitoba say that they have spent months trying to access federal dollars for burial sites research. The Crown-Indigenous Relations department said just nine groups have access to funding, even though 58 have submitted applications and another 117 have inquired about the funding. Is this process going fast enough for you or will you put more resources to help the communities access this funding? Prime Minister?
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (17:28)
This process is unbelievably important. Before we can get to reconciliation, we need to get to truth. We need families be able to grieve and to heal, and to do that, we need to support them in every way we can. We have put forward resources, millions of dollars and will continue to work with every and any community to make sure they have the resources necessary to do what they need to do to identify, to recover, to grieve, and to heal. I know that requests have been coming in from across the country and the Ministry of Indigenous Services has been working extremely hard to deliver those necessary resources. And as I’ve said, we will be there with as much as is necessary to be able to get closure and to move forward right across the country.
Speaker 2: (18:36)
[foreign language 00:18:36] And now go to the microphone. Please identify yourself, your full name and your media outlet. Again, only one question, no follow ups and we will cut you off. Thank you.
Speaker 3: (18:44)
Hello. My name is Ben Miljure. I’m with CTV News Vancouver.Kúkpi7 Casimir, thank you for inviting us here to witness this important meeting. Prime Minister Trudeau, leaders demonstrate their priorities through their actions and then it’s up to people to decide if what they see reflects their own values. With that in mind, what do your actions on September 30th say to indigenous people in this country who are yearning for a leader who can move forward with meaningful reconciliation?
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (19:22)
As I said, I deeply regret not having been here to commemorate and to move forward with the Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc. It something that we need to commit ourselves to do better on every single day as a government and me as an individual. Over the past six years, we have developed an approach in partnership with indigenous peoples that has led to many improved outcomes, from ending 118 Long-term boil water advisories to delivering new and refurbished classroom
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (20:03)
… is to delivering new and refurbished classrooms for tens of thousands of kids across the country, but there is so much more to do. And we will always be there to do that work. And I’m deeply grateful to Kukpi7 Casimir for having welcomed me here today to listen to survivors, to learn how to kill it myself, to work forward. After September 30th, she could have chosen to turn her back on me and on the Federal Government. The community could have said, “You know what? We don’t need to deal with you anymore.” And yet she reached out. She said, “Please come and listen and learn. And we will walk this path together.” And that is why I’m here.
Speaker 2: (20:58)
Thank you. And I’m going to go to a question from the chat. So it’s from Raisa Patel from the Toronto Star with a question for Kukpi7 Roseanne Casimir. The flags on the federal buildings, including Parliament Hill were lowered half-mast to honor the discovery. And actually we say confirmation of the unmarked graves in Kamloops.
Speaker 2: (21:20)
The Prime Minister has said those flags will remain at half mast until Indigenous communities believe they should be raised again. When do you believe it would be appropriate to raise the flags? And what will it represent you when they are? Kukpi7 Casimir.
Kukpi7 Rosanne Casimir: (21:37)
Thank you very much for that question in regards to the flags being half-mast. To us, it was an absolute honor to know that we had the support and the unity of our non-Indigenous government entities, wanting to do that. To signify the honor that they have for our unmarked graves and the children that didn’t make it home.
Kukpi7 Rosanne Casimir: (22:04)
I know in speaking and had some shared reflections with our 13 grassroots family members, and it was shared today. And with our council as well, and our members that were in attendance, and with Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau this morning that September 30th would be a date that we would want to ensure that it’s truly honored every year for those flags to be half-mast, to honor all the children across the whole nation. And honor those children in those unmarked graves, and honor those families who did not have their children come home. So I know that with that, that is what we see.
Speaker 2: (22:55)
Kukwstsetsemc, Kukpi7 Casimir, go to the microphone. Oh no, it’s not on yet.
Allison Hurst: (23:05)
Are we on now? There we go. Allison Hurst, CTV National News. Prime Minister, this is for you. You called previously to apologize to Kukpi7 Casimir and you’re here today, again, to apologize. But they’ve been very clear. They want commitment and they want action, not just an apology. So do you believe that the community has accepted this apology?
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (23:27)
First of all, I think it’s important to understand that words do matter. And that with an apology recognizing the harm that was caused is important, and is a first step towards healing, towards restitution, towards doing right. But it’s not just about words; it’s also about actions.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (23:55)
That’s why I was pleased to confirm, to Kukpi7 and the community, that we will continue to work together on important issues. Whether it’s the Healing Center that this community has been asking for for a long time, certainly needs in a consequence of the discovery of the unmarked graves. Or an elders lodge, or designation of historic sites, or working together to make sure we’re finding answers.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (24:29)
These are all concrete actions as we move forward on commemorating and investing in a museum, making sure that we’re supporting the language and the culture that has caused the strength and the vibrancy of this community for generations, despite the efforts of previous governments to eradicate them. These are all actions that we remain committed to. And this is the conversation we had today.
Speaker 2: (25:03)
Am I live? Hello? Hello, can you hear me? Yes. Here we go. Awesome. Thank you so much. Kukwstsetsemc. Prime minister, we’re going to go to a question from the chat. It’s David Atkins, Global News, and it’s for Prime Minister, Global News Ottawa. Prime Minister has your government had a chance to decide as to whether it will drop any further appeals on the case involving the human rights tribunal payment orders for First Nations children placed in foster home/ Jordan’s Principle?
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (25:35)
This is an extremely important question, and I want to be clear on where we stand, and where we have stood for the past few years. Kids who were removed from their communities into care in the Provincial system, who suffered, deserve compensation. And this government will be compensating them. There is no question about that.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (26:07)
But at the same time as we do that, we need to make sure that we are also moving forward to make sure that today, and tomorrow, and next year, and in 10 years, kids at risk no longer are removed from their communities, from their culture, from their language. That they are able to be supported within their communities, in their identity. That was the essence of Bill C92, that we passed, that we co-developed with Indigenous leaders across this country. And that we’re moving forward on implementing right across the country in the ways that are suited to each community, to each nation.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (26:52)
That’s the path we need to walk. Not only do we need to compensate for the past, we need to make sure we’re preventing the need for compensation because we’re removing the harms and the injustices in the present into the future. And our government will continue to do both those things. We will compensate and we will move forward.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (27:15)
In regards to the specific ruling, we are consulting with Indigenous partners and leaders. We are looking at the implications of the actual decision and we will be making an announcement around that in due course. But we will be compensating those kids who suffered from removal from care, and we will be making sure that this harm to kids at risk, ceases.
Speaker 2: (27:47)
Kukwstsetsemc, Prime Minister. We’ll go to the floor for a question.
Neetu Garcha: (27:52)
Prime Minister Trudeau, Kukpi7 Roseanne. Neetu Garchu with Global News. Thank you both for your remarks this morning. My question goes to prime Minister Trudeau. We are here just a few weeks after a snap election that Indigenous leaders across BC have told us, they felt took attention away from advancing reconciliation, and was not made as much of a priority as they felt it should have been during that campaign.
Neetu Garcha: (28:13)
Here you are again with a re-elected minority government, a few hours after, in Hazleton, BC last night, Indigenous chiefs, matriarchs and family members stopped a social worker from taking a six-year-old child into foster care away from their family. With those commitments that you just reinforced moments ago, I think it’s fair to ask ahead of November 22nd when Parliament meets again, what concrete timelines and funding examples can you give that will be committed to stopping what lawyers have called, “Modern day residential schools,”?
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (28:47)
No, thank you for that question. We’re here today to commemorate and remember the 215 plus kids who attended residential school, just up the hill from here, over the past many decades and generations and who are never returned to their families. And indeed to note, the kids across the country from Indigenous communities who suffered the same fates.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (29:21)
And as you point out, the current practice that has gone on in provinces across the country for many years of taking kids at risk in Indigenous communities, out of those communities, to raise them in foster homes where they’re not surrounded by language. They’re not surrounded by their traditional cultural learnings. They’re not surrounded by members of their communities. They’re not taught by their elders, is unacceptable. And is an example of this country not understanding the lessons, the horrific lessons of residential schools. That’s why-
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (30:03)
The horrific lessons of residential schools. That’s why, three years ago as a government, we sat down with indigenous leadership from across this country and co-developed legislation called C-92 on child and family services to make sure that indigenous communities would have the resources, the ability, to keep kids who are at risk in their communities to raise them in their languages, to keep them safe, but keep them grounded in the identity that would be so important for them for the rest of their lives.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (30:40)
Now, it has been three years since we’ve worked on that and we have begun signing agreements. The first one notably was with [inaudible 00:30:48] First Nation in Saskatchewan, where following the lead of [inaudible 00:30:55], unmarked graves were found. We are in discussion with communities like this one to make sure that we are able to give them the resources and that they are able to set up the right framework for them to keep their kids safe and supported properly.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (31:21)
As a government, we are there for that and we continue to work with the communities at their pace as they develop the system that is right for them because this is a system that no one can afford to get wrong. And that’s why it needs to be centered and informed by the leadership and the parents and the members of the communities who will be supporting these kids in generations to come.
Speaker 2: (31:50)
Thank you, Prime Minister. I’m going to take one last question at this time and that will be online. So everybody in line up here, I regret that we do not have further time at this time. Just a reminder to everybody, both here, present in the media, as well as online, we’re going to live stream the event for those who are online. We’re going to come back at the very end of this event to take some comments and some more questions.
Speaker 2: (32:14)
So the final question I have here for this point in time is from [inaudible 00:32:18] Lee from the City News National desk in Ottawa with a question for the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister is often expected to set an example for all Canadians and many Canadians were likely looking for some guidance on how someone ought to conduct themself on September 30th. Are you concerned about the message that your absence that day may have set for individual Canadians? Prime Minister?
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (32:41)
I have many regrets about September 30th and my decision to travel. First of course was not being able to attend the commemorations here that were so important for the entire country and awakening people to the reality of residential schools, but also to be able to grieve with the community that since May has been hurting and reliving past trauma in a way that I should have been here. But I also regret that my choice on the 30th overshadowed the event that we held on the 29th on the Hill, where the National Council for Truth and Reconciliation came together with elders and survivors who shared their stories. And for the first time ever, raised the national flag of truth and reconciliation on Parliament Hill. It was a moment of deep significance for those who attended. I was privileged to be part of that. And unfortunately it was overlooked because of a decision that I made that I shouldn’t have made. Instead of talking about truth and reconciliation, people talked about me. And that’s on me. I take responsibility for that.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (34:17)
But in the conversations I had with survivors that day and the night before, I experienced and re-experienced both the sorrow and loss that survivors have felt, the sense of worthlessness that residential schools were designed to impart upon indigenous children, and I also witnessed and witness every time I speak with survivors, the extraordinary strength of spirit of indigenous peoples who continue to believe and to commit themselves to building a better future for their own community and for everyone who shares this land. And that always leaves me humbled and inspired. And on September 30th, where going forward, Canada will always lower its flags to half mast and where we will always fly the flag of truth and reconciliation designed by the National Council of Truth and Reconciliation, there will be an opportunity for all Canadians, non-indigenous Canadians to reflect on the country we live in, the actions that have led to the present day, but also the future we need to build together.
Speaker 2: (36:06)
[foreign language 00:36:06] and thank you very much, Prime Minister. At this time, as I have indicated just prior to that last online question, unfortunately, that’s all the questions that we can take at this time. We’re now going to go more to the public event. And for that, for all media present, we’re appreciated that you need to look after your cameras during this media time, but we’re going to ask now that you please disperse so that people in the stands can see because right now you’re blocking everybody’s view.
Speaker 2: (36:31)
Also just a gentle reminder that we do have a screen over here for people to watch. We will be live streaming this on Facebook. This is also being live streamed through our video account. And for the media online, we will be now going over to our live stream event as well so you’re able to follow along. Again, if you didn’t hear already, our AV person is Mike [inaudible 00:36:53] music. He put his email in the chat. So for any media are looking for audio or video from today’s event, please email him directly with your request. Again, I’m going to say it one more time for everybody standing, if you could please disperse into the stand so that people can see and be able to fully participate in today’s event. [foreign language 00:37:14], everybody, for participating in this media event. I’m now going to hand it over to our MC once we get every…