Friends of Clayoquot Sound accompanied Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation members of the Masso family who gathered supporters to call on Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to take accountability for vacationing in Tofino within Tla-oqui-aht territory instead of attending the first ever Truth and Reconciliation Day. We supported 18 year old Tla-oqui-aht leader, Timmy Masso, in calling on Canada’s Prime Minister to apologize and take accountability for his holiday mistake.
“Due to recent events regarding Prime Minister Trudeau, we will be going to Chesterman Beach to call upon Mr. Trudeau to address the mistakes that he has made,” Masso wrote online. A couple hours later, around 20 of us were positioned on the beach in the pouring rain in front of Trudeau’s taxpayer funded vacation rental, where his security cameras and guards faced us.
“We use reconciliation as a word right now, but recently it seems like a hollow word. It doesn’t seem like there’s really that much action that’s going into it and it’s quite sad to say… If one sitting Prime Minister were to take a vacation on Remembrance Day, the whole country would be in an uproar,” Masso said.
Justin Trudeau refused to meet with Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation members and had his security pass along the message that it was his “personal vacation time”. The security promised to deliver to Trudeau a paper copy of Timmy Masso’s statement, along with a package of handwritten letters from local elementary school students sharing their disappointment in the PM. “It’s sad that we don’t expect much from leadership anymore.
It’s sad we have to stand in the rain in the middle of a pandemic following an election, just to be heard. But here we are,” said Hjalmer Wenstob. The next day, Trudeau apologized to the Tk’emlúps Secwepemc for not responding to their invitations to attend the Truth and Reconciliation Day Ceremony. The Assembly of First Nations National Chief RoseAnne Archibald responded: “Hollow apologies will no longer be accepted.” While Trudeau vacationed in Tofino, he led an active court challenge to deny Indigenous children set to receive billions in compensation from Canada. But the next week in Ottawa, a judge ruled that Indigenous children are entitled to government compensation as Canada “wilfully and recklessly” discriminated against them.
The evidence of the Prime Minister’s racist approach to governance continues to accumulate, just like empty promises of clean water infrastructure for Indigenous communities or pushing pipelines without consent across unceded Indigenous territories, among many others. We stand in solidarity with Indigenous people holding the Prime Minister and colonial politicians accountable for the structural racism they facilitate.