The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) Chief Bobby Cameron said he was taken aback since learning of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s visit to Saskatoon on Monday after the Canadian leader turned down a visit to Star Blanket Cree Nation following the recent announcement of 2000 anomalies and an unearthed fragment of a child’s remains at the Lebret Indian Residential School.
“The Prime Minister is without the decency to pay his respects in person to Star Blanket, as they mourn the horrific discovery,” said Cameron. “His lack of respect is hurtful towards all residential school survivors and descendants, who are grappling with how to handle finding the child’s remains and more unmarked graves.”
According to the FSIN, Trudeau declined an invitation from First Nation leaders to attend Star Blanket’s announcement because he was waiting to confirm a meeting with the Japanese Prime Minister.
In a statement on Monday, Cameron said he first learned of the Prime Minister’s visit in the press and was dismayed that their request wasn’t valued as much as a tour of a rare earth mining processing plant.
“Part of the reconciliation journey is communication. There is no reconciliation without it,” added Cameron. “As the people of Star Blanket mourn, the Prime Minister is demonstrating their important to him through his choices.
FSIN leadership say they are formally inviting Prime Minister Trudeau to visit Star Blanket Cree Nation in the coming months.
“We want him to see the site,” said File Hills Qu’Appelle Tribal Chair Jeremy Fourhorns. “The amount of anomalies is devastating to our people, who wonder how many of our relatives may have died there. This is a dark part of Canadian history that deserves acknowledgement from the Prime Minister of Canada.”
Follow the Jan. 12 announcement, the people of Star Blanket are now preparing for a proper burial of the remains and are planning further investigations on the 2,000 anomalies; plans include core sampling and DNA tests to determine if they are unmarked graves.
The Herald attempted to reach out to the Prime Minister’s Office for a statement but did not hear back in time for publication.