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Tk'emlups chief wants more action and inclusion following federal election

Tk'emlups te Secwepemc Chief Rosanne Casimir.
Image Credit: FACEBOOK/ Rosanne J. Casimir

Tk'emlups Kukpi7 (Chief) Rosanne Casimir says she will work with whichever government is elected after the federal election on Monday.

When asked which federal party has the most effective plan for reconciliation, she said that it's important for a First Nations community to clearly define for themselves what reconciliation means.

"But with the government, we want them to be working with us and hearing these truths," she said today, Sept. 17, at a press conference.

The Tk'emlups te Secwepemc community was the epicentre of a nation's reckoning with past racist policies after the community announced it had found the unmarked graves of 215 children in May.

READ MORE: Federal Election 2021: Where each party stands on hot topics in Canada

Those graves were near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School grounds and discovered with ground penetrating radar. The practice is being replicated at other former Indian residential schools across Canada, adding hundreds to the grave count.

The reckoning spread further when, for example, protesters tore down a statue of Egerton Ryerson, the namesake of Toronto's Ryerson University and one of the architects of Canada's Indian residential school system.

"When we're looking at reconciliation, it's about honouring those truths and moving forward," Casimir said. "With this federal election, there definitely has to be more dialogue - there has to be communication, more inclusivity, more government to government tables."

The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation was a "really good first step," she said.

READ MORE: Tk'emlups leads Drum for the Children event on National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was previously invited to the Kamloops Indian Residential School site, but out of the federal party leaders, only NDP leader Jagmeet Singh has visited. He held a press conference after meeting with Tk'emlups leadership.

Casimir has, however, had a chance to speak with all the federal parties about reconciliation and spoke to them about how they can work with the federal government in the future.

"We want to make sure we have fair access and treatment... when it comes to infrastructure, water, roadways, housing, the opioid crisis and the list does go on," Casimir said. "When we're looking at... all those different socioeconomic issues that we have on deck, those need to be advanced. Regardless of whoever's in, they need to be able to continue those dialogues and work toward that path forward."

READ MORE: Tk'emlups graves report sheds light on study; further work stalled by lack of records

Tk'emlups te Secwepemc plans to continue to look at both federal and provincial funding in the future.

"We're going to be holding them to account, just like our people are going to hold us to account," Casimir said.

Federal election day is Sept. 20.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Levi Landry or call 250-819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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