Trudeau dodges question about whether Canada is on stolen Indigenous land


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau won’t reveal his beliefs on whether Canada is on stolen Indigenous land.

He was asked the direct question by a reporter on Monday, and replied that “the story of Canada” is a story of people coming together to build a better present and future for generations to come.

“Canada is a country that consists of Indigenous people who have been here for millennia, who welcomed in settlers, and in some cases, were overrun by settlers and others,” Trudeau said during a press conference in Kamloops, B.C.

“But we’re a country that exists today with a commitment to always learn from the past and always do better.”


Click to play video: 'Trudeau sidesteps question on if Canada ‘exists on stolen Indigenous land’'







Trudeau sidesteps question on if Canada ‘exists on stolen Indigenous land’


Trudeau sidesteps question on if Canada ‘exists on stolen Indigenous land’

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Trudeau faces chants, pounding drums as he walks through crowd at Kamloops memorial

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Trudeau made the comments after the one-year memorial for Le Estcwicwéy̓ — the 215 missing children believed to be buried near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.

Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc Kúkpi7 Rosanne Casimir and many others welcomed him into the ceremonies, shaking hands, hugging and taking pictures, while some heckled him. They drummed and sang, “Canada is all Indian land,” while calling on the prime minister to take his “disrespect” elsewhere.

In the news conference that followed, Trudeau said he understands the “anger and frustration out there,” built upon “many layers of trauma,” and vowed the federal government would continue to be a partner in reconciliation.

Pressed again at the end of the press conference to provide a “yes or no answer” to the stolen land question, Trudeau smiled, thanked reporters and walked away.


Click to play video: 'Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc mark one year since unmarked graves rediscovered'







Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc mark one year since unmarked graves rediscovered


Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc mark one year since unmarked graves rediscovered

In an interview, Neskonlith Kúkpi7 Judy Wilson said the prime minister was asked a “valid question.”

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Indigenous reserves are “forced oppression” on territorial land, she explained, while the rest of Canada lies on unceded Indigenous land — land for which no treaties have been signed.

“The lands were taken through the Doctrine of Discovery and terra nullius, which is fictional, because they have no documents to show we surrendered or relinquished the title to our land. In Secwepemc, we can show that and many other nations probably could show that as well.”

Read more:

Reclaiming, rebuilding — Kamloops school survivors share in memorial for missing children

The Doctrine of Discovery and concept of ‘terra nullius’ were legal frameworks for early Christian explorers that gave them permission to conquer, displace and enslave the non-Christian First Peoples of the land. They stemmed from a series of papal orders given in the 15th century.

During a historic delegation to the Vatican in March, Indigenous leaders, youth, elders, survivors and knowledge keepers called on Pope Francis to revoke those orders. Casimir repeated that call during the memorial on Monday, while expressing disappointment the pontiff will not visit Kamloops on a reconciliation pilgrimage to Canada in July.

In October 2021, when Marc Miller took on a new role as federal minister for Crown-Indigenous relations, he made headlines for stating, “it’s time to give land back” to Indigenous Peoples. He attended Monday’s memorial but did not address participants directly.

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Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Marc Miller speaks with B.C. Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Minister Murray Rankin in Kamloops, B.C. on Mon. May 23, 2022, during Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc’s one-year memorial for the 215 missing in children.


Elizabeth McSheffrey/Global News

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Honouring Le Estcwicwéy̓ — B.C. First Nation marks 1 year since discovery of 215 unmarked graves

Robert Phillips, political executive for the First Nations Summit, described Trudeau’s answer to the stolen land question as an “opportunity that was missed.” It was a “loaded question,” he added, but one that could have been answered in greater depth and clarity.

“It’s so important that we understand this history of the land, Indigenous land that we’ve had since time immemorial,” he explained. “If the prime minister says, ‘This is Indigenous land,’ it gives the acknowledgment.”

When settlers arrived on Turtle Island — what is now called North America — they encountered nations with rich and distinct systems of governance, cultures and languages, said Phillips. That was taken away through colonization — “stolen” through racist policies, he added.

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Click to play video: 'Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc mark one year since unmarked graves rediscovered'







Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc mark one year since unmarked graves rediscovered


Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc mark one year since unmarked graves rediscovered

Nevertheless, Phillips said he acknowledged the “difficult position” Trudeau was in and unknown legal consequences if he had answered, “yes.” He echoed Casimir in calling for unity as Indigenous Peoples and governments work towards reconciliation, and focused on the positive, healing steps taken on Monday.

“I think the prime minister, of course, he went there with all good intentions and certainly showed up — to the surprise, and in most cases to the happiness — of participants, survivors that were there from residential schools, many people with heavy hearts.”

Trudeau travelled to Vancouver on Tuesday, where he discussed housing and food bank issues with residents and later held a news conference.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.





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