Prime minister says communities have ‘right to be angry’ after tense appearance at Kamloops memorial

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said it’s been a difficult year for many since the discovery of unmarked graves at residential schools and those expressing anger are justified in doing so.

Trudeau told reporters in Vancouver that Canada was responsible for “horrific things” happening to Indigenous people and the injustices are not isolated in the past.

He said they continue today with socioeconomic inequality, mental health challenges and other legacies of residential schools that require ongoing action.

Trudeau made the comments following a tense appearance Monday at a memorial ceremony at the former residential school in Kamloops, where he faced angry chants from some. The prime minister was in Vancouver Tuesday for a series of announcements, including welcoming the Invictus Games to Canada in 2025, which will include winter sports.

WATCH | Trudeau says federal government will be long-term partners for Indigenous reconciliation

Trudeau says federal government will be long-term partners for Indigenous reconciliation

Justin Trudeau reacts to the heckling he received at the Kamloops memorial.

The Tk̓emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation announced last May that ground-penetrating radar had identified as many as many as 215 suspected graves in an apple orchard by the residential school. Trudeau said Canada is still grappling with the discovery.

“There were a number of people who are still very, very hurt by this and who are angry, and, frankly, they have a right to be angry,” he said.

Invictus Games 2025

The federal and provincial governments are each committing $15 million in support of the 2025 Invictus Games in Vancouver and Whistler, BC

As the first Invictus Games to feature adaptive winter sports, Trudeau says the event will be “uniquely Canadian.” He also said an additional $1 million in federal funds will be provided to the Soldier On program to support the participation of Canadian veterans in the games.

The games will feature alpine skiing, nordic skiing, skeleton and wheelchair curling as well as swimming, indoor rowing, sitting volleyball, rugby wheelchair and wheelchair basketball.

Long passport lines

Trudeau also answered questions Tuesday about long lineups at passport and plans for Canada Soccer to host a men’s friendly match against Iran in Vancouver next month.

People throughout the country have expressed frustration over the long lineups as they attempt to receive or renew passports ahead of international travel.

People wait outside in line outside a Services Canada Passport office in Surrey, British Columbia on Tuesday, May 24, 2022. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

The prime minister said the federal government anticipated this rush in December as travel restrictions lifted and worked to hire 500 new passport office workers to manage the influx.

“We’re delivering about 43,000 new passports a week,” he said. “This is cold comfort for people who are still struggling but it would be even worse had we not started the hiring process back at the beginning of the year.”

He also said the lineups have a silver lining as it indicates a reopening of the economy and international borders after two years of restrictions.

Canada-Iran soccer game ‘a bad idea’

Flight PS752 victims’ families outraged by Canada’s soccer match with Iran

The families of the victims in the downing of Flight PS752 are demanding Canada Soccer cancel a planned game with Iran’s soccer team, saying they feel betrayed by the move.

Asked about an upcoming soccer game between the Canadian and Iran men’s teams, Trudeau reiterated his belief it was a “bad idea” to host the game in Vancouver but said ultimately it is not his decision about whether it will be allowed to go ahead.

Families who lost loved ones in the destruction of Flight PS752 are demanding that Canada Soccer abandon its plan for the game, saying they feel “betrayed” by the decision to have the Iranian team in BC, a sentiment the prime minister said he shares.

“I express my concerns that I think this game was a bad idea,” he said, adding that no funding from Sport Canada has been used to help host it.

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