(Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaking at the United Nations Thursday. Photo: Catherine McKenna)
The Canadian Press
UNITED NATIONS, N.Y. _ Prime Minister Justin Trudeau used a speech to the United Nations on Thursday to probe a source of national shame: the historic struggles of Canada’s Indigenous peoples.
He spoke of forced migration and forced family separation in residential schools, which he said left a devastating legacy on reserves to this day.
He said Canada came to exist without the consent and participation of the Indigenous populations who had lived there for millenniums.
“For indigenous peoples in Canada, the experience was mostly one of humiliation, neglect and abuse,” he said.
It was the major theme of his address, which did not gloss over the country’s failures and even referred to the international condemnation they have drawn.
But he also looked ahead to at a series of solutions: better infrastructure on reserves, better housing, signing of the UN Declaration on Indigenous Peoples and a dismantling of the old Indian Affairs department.
“Canada remains a work in progress,” he said. “For all the mistakes we’ve made, we remain hopeful.”
Trudeau used these examples to bolster his main point here at the UN this week: that Canada is ready to take on complex challenges, at home and abroad, and deserves a seat on the Security Council.
The rest of the speech focused on climate change, international trade rules aimed at helping workers and his controversial tax reform which he cited as an example of his middle-class-friendly policies.
Trudeau drew applause when he promised to keep supporting the international climate-change treaty.
“There is no country on the planet that can walk away from the challenge and reality of climate change.” he said.
He also promised to stick to his efforts to empower women and girls.
The prime minister’s reference to his tax plans drew a Twitter rebuke from Conservative MP Garnett Genuis:
“Unbelievable. Trudeau praising his terrible small business tax grab during UN speech. Save that for home at the very least.”
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