Relationships are improving after five First Nations told Prime Minister Justin Trudeau he wasn’t welcome in their territories last year
Justin Trudeau arrived at a Tofino hotel for two meetings Saturday before he started a family vacation.
The region’s NDP MP says he’s been pushing for these meetings to happen for some time.
“We’ve been calling on the Prime Minister to come to our riding,” said Courtenay-Alberni NDP MP Gord Johns. “We’ve had some outstanding issues, important issues to the peoples of our communities and we’re grateful that he’s here to hear our concerns and so that we can see some action on these fronts.”
The first meeting is with regional mayors and leaders.
“It’s just great to have the opportunity to meet with connect with people in the community and talk about some of the challenges,” said Trudeau before the meeting started. “Obviously we know Tofino is a wonderful spot for tourism but there are all sorts of challenges related to that.”
The local mayors say they’re glad to have presented their challenges the Prime Minister.
“The top one for all of us is housing,” said Port Alberni Mayor Mike Ruttan. “Each community if we’re going to progress, if we’re going to move along, we have to be able to provide housing for people that are coming here and people who are already here.”
The second meeting with the region’s First Nations was poised not to happen.
In September, after aboriginal commercial fishing negotiations broke off with Fisheries and Oceans, five Nuu-chah-nulth Nations sent a letter to the Prime Minister banning him from their territories.
“Since the time that we made that statement there’s been significant movement,” said Chief Councillor Elmer Frank of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation at the start of the meeting. “Not significant enough for a fisher to go out and make a tangible living but it was significant enough for us.”
“I thought the meeting went quite well,” said Chief Councillor Robert Dennis of the Huu-ay-aht First Nation. “First of all it’s most important that the prime minister is willing to reach out to first nations and hear our issues and hear our concerns.”
The Prime Minister left the resort but he was not leaving the region. His aide said Trudeau’s family is now going on vacation for the next week and a half and they’re spending it on Vancouver Island.