PRIME MINISTER PART OF FIRST NATIONS PARADE: Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations Days was celebrated in Tofino on Monday, Aug. 8 with a parade, traditional dances and a community barbecue. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took part in the parade and addressed the crowd with words of gratitude at the opening ceremonies.

Trudeaus enjoy some Tofino time

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took time out of his family vacation to participate in Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation Days opening ceremonies

NORA O’MALLEY

The Westerly News

 

Enjoying a West Coast holiday with his family, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was back at work for a couple of hours on Monday, speaking to a Tofino crowd about his government’s commitment to First Nations.

“As some of you may know, I’ve made a priority for our government that we renew and rebuild the true nation to nation relationships,” Trudeau said to the crowd at the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations (TFN) Days opening ceremonies on Monday at the Tofino Village Green.

“But it can’t just be done between government and Indigenous peoples, all Canadians have to be involved,” he said. “I just want to thank all of you for being part of this celebration today, for connecting with Indigenous Canadians, for understanding and appreciating the cultural and for understanding that quite frankly as extraordinary a place as Tofino is, you only understand the full depth and spirit of this place when you walk side by side with the people that have lived here for a millennia. And that is really what we are celebrating today.”

TFN Days is a weeklong festival that brings families and communities together with a variety of different events and sport races throughout Tla-o-qui-aht Traditional Territory. Elected Chief Councillor Elmer Frank said it has been 15 years since the last TFN Days was held.

“About three weeks ago we sent [Trudeau’s] office a letter letting him know that Tla-o-qui-aht is reviving Tla-o-qui-aht Days. It was really important for us to send an invitation to our Prime Minister once we found out that he was going to be in our Tradition Territory,” said Frank.

On Monday morning, the day of the parade, Frank received a personal call from the prime minister.

“He called to say, ‘I’ll be there’,” Frank told The Westerly.

Justin and Sophie Grégoire Trudeau and their children Xavier, Ella-Grace, and Hadrien have been enjoying a summer beach holiday around the Tofino-Ucluelet area for the last week.

“I just want to say thank you all for everyone that has been coming up over the course of our vacation. You’ve been wonderfully friendly and not too… much. That’s appreciative as well. I’m so honoured to be able to be welcomed here by all of you and to share in this wonderful celebration,” said Trudeau.

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