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Canada ‘Warriored up’ survivors speak truth to power at ceremony in Kamloops, B.C.

22:55  19 october  2021
22:55  19 october  2021 Source:   globalnews.ca

After skipping earlier invitations, Trudeau meeting with B.C. First Nation on Monday

  After skipping earlier invitations, Trudeau meeting with B.C. First Nation on Monday The Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc Nation will meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday, about two weeks after he apologized to the First Nation's leadership for not responding to invitations to join them to mark the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc Nation is located 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.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is framed by a eagle statue as he visits Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc in Kamloops, B.C. on Monday, Oct. 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward © Provided by Global News Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is framed by a eagle statue as he visits Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc in Kamloops, B.C. on Monday, Oct. 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Warning: This story deals with disturbing subject matter that may upset and trigger some readers. Discretion is advised.

Survivors and intergenerational survivors of residential schools shattered "the myth of friendly Canada" on Monday, in a powerful ceremony hosted by Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc in Kamloops, B.C.

They spoke truth to power as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listened in his first visit to the community since its harrowing confirmation of 215 unmarked burial sites last spring.

Trudeau to visit Tk’emlúps te Secwepemc Nation in Kamloops, B.C.

  Trudeau to visit Tk’emlúps te Secwepemc Nation in Kamloops, B.C. KAMLOOPS, B.C. — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is scheduled to visit Kamloops, B.C., today, where the Tk’emlúps te Secwepemc Nation announced it had found what are believed to be some 200 unmarked graves at the site of a former residential school last spring. Since May, numerous Indigenous nations have reported finding unmarked graves at former residential schools with the same ground-penetrating radar technology used in Kamloops, prompting calls for justice that have resonated across the world.

"Thank yourselves, all you survivors for the work that you did, the hard work that you did to survive the genocide of Canada against us," said Shuswap National Tribal Council Chair, Kukpi7 Wayne Christian.

"We are here because every man, woman and child, grandfather, grandmother, aunt and uncle -- you warriored up."

Read more: First Nation chief calls for ‘peaceful resolution’ on Trudeau’s visit to Kamloops, B.C.

Since May, Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc has pursued justice for Le Estcwéy̓ -- the missing children -- calling on Ottawa to fund a healing centre for the community and turn over all documents pertaining to the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.

Kukpi7 Christian said his mother never shared the "atrocities" she survived there, and while he recognized Trudeau is just a "man" who makes "mistakes," as prime minister, he must shoulder that legacy.

Mixed emotions from B.C. chiefs after Trudeau’s ‘crucial’ visit to Kamloops

  Mixed emotions from B.C. chiefs after Trudeau’s ‘crucial’ visit to Kamloops Some were angered and others were filled with hope as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc in Kamloops, B.C. on Monday.First Nations chiefs in B.C. were left with a range of emotions after what Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc Kukpi7 Rosanne Casimir called a "crucial" visit from the prime minister to her community.

"You carry the weight of this country on your shoulders, and all we're saying is let's work together."

Students from the Sk'elep School sang the Secwépemc Honour song for survivors and intergenerational survivors and shared an original music video about their love for their land and community.

Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc residential school survivor Charlotte Manual tearfully called for a moment of silence as she laid tobacco for Le Estcwéy̓.

"I've worked hard on myself I've made lots of mistakes in my life ... but I've learned to forgive myself for blaming myself for making mistakes," she said.

"I pray that we can have it in our hearts to start forgiving, and start working and making the truth and reconciliation a path for all of us, for the children of the future, for the children of the past, for the children of now and the present."

Read more: Canada needs to ‘lean in’: Message on truth and reconciliation from Kamloops, B.C.

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Earlier in the day, the prime minister visited the sacred site of Le Estcwéy̓ to pay his respects.

He apologized several times for taking a vacation on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, making "a very difficult day even harder."

National Assembly of First Nations Chief RoseAnne Archibald said the "myth of friendly of Canada has been shattered," and the "days of empty rhetoric are over."

"We must all now pick up the pieces together and construct a truthful story about our painful shared history."

Trudeau agreed, and lamented the loss of rich traditional and knowledge and culture in Canada to the government's "wrong-headed colonial mindset, the racist ideology, the cultural genocide."

"We love to tell stories of ourselves being this open, tolerant nation. We compare ourselves with smug smiles to the news coming out of the United States," he said.

"To the survivors who shared their powerful, moving, heartbreaking stories, I have heard you. To the families, to this community, I am listening to what we need to do to make amends as a country."

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The prime minister and Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc Kukpi7 Rosanne Casimir exchanged gifts, including a gift for Trudeau's son, who celebrated a birthday on Monday.

"This is about our children, all our children," she said.

Ashley Michel, a Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc youth, urged Trudeau to keep Indigenous children top of mind in his policies and bring the peace their families deserve.

"I want our children to have a future where their voice is heard, where they don't have to worry about being another statistic," she said through tears. "We need more than words and broken promises, Mr. Trudeau.

Listen and learn from our elders and survivors while they're still here ... Use your power and privilege for good and make this visit count."

Meanwhile, Archibald called for an independent investigation into Canada's residential school system as communities continue to confirm the remains of more children who were "literally cast aside" in unmarked graves.

"Canada must not be allowed to investigate itself," she said.

"We need to continue to work together so that everyone, First Nations and non-First Nations will come to terms with these truths so that we may collectively heal. That is when reconciliation will start. that is the path we must be on in unity, in solidarity for our children."

The Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line (1-866-925-4419) is available 24 hours a day for anyone experiencing pain or distress as a result of their residential school experience.

Tk'emlúps te Secwe̓pemc invites Pope to visit and deliver long-awaited apology on visit to Canada .
The Tk'emlúps te Secwe̓pemc Nation on Thursday invited Pope Francis to visit their community and meet with survivors of the Kamloops Indian Residential School during his visit to Canada.A statement from the nation said it would "be deeply meaningful" if the Pope came to the community in person and delivered an apology for the Catholic Church's role in running residential schools.

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