BONOKOSKI: Hypocrite Trudeau adds a weak ‘mea culpa’ to his list 

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When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau lied about his itinerary and then jetted off with his family to surf in Tofino, B.C., on the inaugural National Day of Truth and Reconciliation — the federal holiday he initiated — he later said he regretted it.  

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He said it was a mistake.  

But he never said he was sorry.  

This is why Trudeau was on a hypocrite’s kiss-up “mea culpa” mission Monday, visiting Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc, a B.C. First Nation where the remains of 215 children were found earlier this year in unmarked graves at a residential school site in Kamloops.  

They said they had sent “two heartfelt invitations” to Trudeau.  

Not that it mattered to Trudeau, whose frequent apologies have become pretty diluted as of late — and that’s the problem.  

They’re worthless.  

And, besides, the surf was up.  

Tragic headlines about residential schools have routinely caused many Canadians to pay attention to the generations of trauma still being experienced by Indigenous Peoples. But as Irene Andreas, of Cowesses First Nations, told us in July: “ There is no ‘discovery’ of graves. All our elders have knowledge of every grave.  

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“The Band office received a list of over 750 registered burials (on her reserve) from the Bishop’s office,” she said.  

“So please, people, do not make up stories about residential school children being put in unmarked graves. No such thing ever happened.”  

There is a long history in Canada of waves of concern over residential schools followed by Ottawa’s inaction or apathy.  

The Macdonald-Laurier Institute’s (MLI) Ken Coates tends to concur.  

Ottawa’s typical approach of empty apologies is never going to be sufficient. Meaningful action is needed,” writes Coates, a Munk senior fellow at the non-partisan think tank.  

 “This time can be different if Canada can get past federal government paternalism and moves ahead in full partnership, and with Indigenous Peoples taking the lead on reconciliation.”  

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At some point, Canadians will wake up to the devastating personal, family, and health consequences of the Indigenous housing crisis, says Coates.  

“They will question the massive over-representation of Indigenous people in prisons (and the serious challenges facing those prisons when it comes to mental health difficulties) and look beyond the statistics of weak educational performance to see what is going on within the classrooms in on-reserve schools,” he writes.  

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“And maybe – and this is a greater stretch – non-Indigenous Canadians will come to realize the degree to which the lived experiences of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit people are defined by acts of racism.  

“This does not mean that all encounters with non-Indigenous Peoples are defined by issues of race, but it does mean that virtually all Indigenous Peoples are confronted with racism far too often,” he says.  

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“Changing a trajectory that has worked against Indigenous Peoples for generations is not easy. The step-by-step process adopted to date — a million dollars here, a new program there — only perpetuates the problems of the past.  

“Canada owes Indigenous Peoples a much better future,” says Coates. “The country will not get there through an endless series of baby steps.  

“Instead, we need to find the courage, determination, and vision to include Indigenous communities in a full partnership.  

“That courage exists in Indigenous communities, who face the future with remarkable resilience and determination and with a vision for a return to wellness and prosperity that should inspire all Canadians,” writes MLI’s Coates.  

“It is long past the time, as the discovery of the graves testifies, to say we should do better. It is now the time when Canada must do both more and much better.”  

And forgo the feigned and empty apologies.  

markbonokoski@gmail.com  

 

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