MONTREAL, Canada (AFP) — Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is to visit the indigenous community of Kamloops where the remains of 215 children were found in May at a former residential school.
It will be the prime minister’s first on-site visit to the British Columbia community, in the west of the country, since the unmarked graves were uncovered, sparking fury across the country.
A statement from the Kamloops community said Trudeau would visit on October 18.
At the beginning of June, Trudeau acknowledged Canada’s fault and laid a wreath near the Centennial Flame, a monument located in front of parliament in Ottawa which had been transformed for the occasion into an improvised memorial.
The prime minister admitted last week he made a “mistake” after being filmed with his family on a beach in British Columbia on September 30, the first national day of truth and reconciliation aimed at paying tribute to victims of residential schools.
After Trudeau’s public apology, the indigenous community of Tk’emlups te Secwepemc said it regretted not having received a response to the two letters of invitation sent to the prime minister to participate in a tribute ceremony.
“The lack of response to our invitations was an added insult, as he never extended his personal hand of sympathy to our community once he heard the official announcement on May 27, 2021,” the community said in a statement.
In recent months, more than 1,000 anonymous graves have been found near former Catholic Indian residential schools, shedding light on a dark page in Canadian history and its policy of forced assimilation of First Nations.
In total, some 150,000 Indian, Metis and Inuit children were enrolled from the late 1800s to the 1990s in 139 of the residential schools across Canada, spending months or years isolated from their families, language and culture.
© Agence France-Presse