EDITORIAL – Apologies and words; so what comes next for reconciliation?

(Image: Mel Rothenburger video)

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

PRIME MINISTER JUSTIN TRUDEAU came, he saw, he apologized.

Surely, no one has ever apologized so many times in a single day as he did yesterday. He apologized to individuals, to Tk’emlups te Secwempc and to indigenous people everywhere for not showing up on National Truth and Reconciliation Day.

The event at the Powwow Arbour attracted about 300 people and had a festive feel but this was no love-in. TteS Chief Rosanne Casimir set the tone by saying Trudeau’s Sept. 30 brushoff caused shock and anger.

Trudeau listened with a stoic expression reflecting his acknowledgement that he blew it, that he understands he has undermined the trust he so badly wanted to build at the start of his stewardship.

There was much talk of truth vs. reconciliation, and the need for action to follow the words.

But there were few specifics, and that remains the challenge. Other than federal funding for a residential-school survivors healing centre, and reference to unspecified “restitution,” it remains unclear what should come next.

According to a review earlier this year, of the 94 calls to action in the 2015 Truth and Reconciliation report, 13 have been fully implemented, 60 have been partly implemented and 21 remain to be acted upon.

Goals involving the justice system and overrepresentation of Aboriginal youth in custody are among those unrealized, and the Pope has yet to come to Canada to apologize for the Catholic church’s involvement in residential schools.

On the other hand, a national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women and girls was completed. And Call to Action Number 80 was what yesterday was all about — the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

If Trudeau’s visit was about resetting the agenda, hard priorities need to be clearly listed.

The new national angst over reconciliation clearly requires a fresh examination of those 94 calls to action; maybe even a complete restart with a Truth and Reconciliation Commission 2.0.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at

About Mel Rothenburger (9378 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

3 Comments on EDITORIAL – Apologies and words; so what comes next for reconciliation?

  1. Sean McGuinness // October 19, 2021 at 10:02 AM // Reply

    I think we have to give the PM some credit for showing up and facing the music. Don’t forget that previous PM’s did virtually nothing (save for token efforts). With Harper, reconciliation wasn’t even on his radar. Yes, there are 94 calls-to-action and for most of them, nothing has been done. But after 150 years of wrongdoing, it’s going to be a long road back. These problems are going to take time to solve.

  2. Ian MacKenzie // October 19, 2021 at 7:52 AM // Reply

    I totally agree. If Trudeau had even the slightest glimmer of insight over what he had done he would have arrived at that meeting yesterday with a well-thought-out plan of achieving the remainder of those 94 calls-to-action. Perhaps he could have talked of them in three categories: those achieved, those in the process thereof and why only in the process, and those unachievable and the reasons why. They didn’t need to be done in the glaring light of the press, but as I understand the closed meeting with the chiefs he didn’t offer that to them either. The very least it might have achieved is an increase in his credibility and proof that he’s actually read the. If he had the wit and the machine he could have printed them on paper and handed them out to the chiefs! As he left yesterday he has no credibility left and for good reasons.

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