Trudeau talks reconciliation, student employment in Saskatoon visit
- NC Raine | September 06, 2017
Reconciliation and empowering youth were Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's themes during his visit to Saskatoon.
On September 1st, his third visit since taking office, Prime Minister Trudeau met privately with leadership from the Saskatoon Tribal Council at White Buffalo Youth Lodge where he spoke about the importance of partnership with Canada's Indigenous people to achieve reconciliation.
He then met with students at the Gordon Oakes Red Bear Student Centre on the University of Saskatchewan campus.
“Our responsibility as a country, as a university, and as a community [is to] build a better tomorrow. And that happens by investing in our young people,” said Trudeau during his address to the students on campus.
“Young people simply want to get good jobs and be able to return home to their communities, in some cases, and be able to contribute and break down that cycle, whether it's residential schools, or decades and generations of broken relationships between the Crown and Indigenous peoples,” said Trudeau.
Joined by Patricia Hajdu, Minister of Employment, Workfare Development and Labour, Trudeau spoke about the new Student Work Placement Program, which will put $73 million into creating 10,000 new, paid student placements. The program, combined with prior investments, will create more than 60,000 paid student placements over the next five years.
“Underlying the incredible opportunity we have as a country in our future when we pull together young people of every background and give everyone a real and fair chance to succeed,” said Trudeau.
The Prime Minster also spoke about the importance of women and Indigenous leadership in creating a stronger, more inclusive country.
“There is an awful lot of work to do,” said Trudeau. “We need to make sure that all voices, particularly those marginalized voices – in many cases Indigenous women and girls – are included in those conversations that we have to build a strong future together.”
“This is a priority for a feminist government and a government committed to reconciliation,” he said.
Trudeau's tour indirectly links two important cultural institutions in Saskatoon, and the relationship they both play in fostering a health Indigenous community. The White Buffalo Youth Lodge (WBYL), which provides many invaluable programs and services to the community, has seen sharp increases in visitors in the past few years. However, WBYL has had funding difficulties in the past, due in large part to the federal government eliminating a sizeable Heritage Canada grant.
The Gordon Oakes Red Bear Student Centre is a $17 million building opened last winter in order to meet the needs of aboriginal students and be a cultural gathering place for all. Support for grassroots institutions like WBYL could ensure continued success of these student centres.
At the WBYL during Trudeau's visit, Saskatoon Tribal Council Chief Felix Thomas said that reconciliation won't be possible without cooperation.
“It's going to be hard work and no one side can do it. We can't do it all alone on our First Nation side,” Thomas said to the media.
“We do have a partner on account of treaty and that partner is Canada and we need to work together.”
Earlier in the day, Trudeau also met with over 5,000 Muslims at the Eid al-Ahda celebration, where he spoke about uniting against racism and hatred.
“This is just who we are as Canadians,” Trudeau said. “We are there for each other. We stand up for each other.”