Coming to terms with the “historical wrongs” of Canada’s past, as well as boosting vaccination efforts remain some of the country’s top priorities as 2021 turns to 2022, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday.
Trudeau said in his year-end statement that Canadians will need to continue working together to end the pandemic.
“I know that the incredible strength, determination, and compassion we have seen in our communities over the past year will keep inspiring and guiding us in the new year,” he said.
The country also confronted its past after unmarked graves and burial sites were found near former residential schools.
‘Deep wounds were reopened’
In May, it was announced that ground-penetrating radar at a former school site on the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc Nation in Kamloops, B.C., detected what are believed to be the remains of 215 children. The same technology was used elsewhere in the country to find unmarked graves.
“This year has been particularly difficult for Indigenous Peoples in Canada — deep wounds were reopened as we were faced with the hard truths of our past and its ongoing, tragic legacy,” he said. “We must continue to tell these truths, support the process of healing that leads to reconciliation, and work together to eliminate the injustices experienced by many Indigenous Peoples.”
Canadians also faced the effects of climate change with record-breaking heat waves, wildfires and historic flooding that destroyed communities and highways, he said.
British Columbia often bore the brunt of the weather this year, including a heat wave that caused the deaths of almost 600 people in the province in June. A wildfire destroyed much of the village of Lytton, and flooding in November forced thousands to flee their homes in the southern part of the province.
“Drawing on the hard lessons of the past two years, we will finish the fight against this pandemic and rebuild a Canada that is stronger, fairer, and more equitable,” Trudeau said.