Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s initial strides into office have been so promising that the Tsuut’ina Nation made him an honorary member and awarded him the name Gumistiyi, “The One Who Keeps Trying.”
Trudeau’s outreach to Indigenous Peoples in Canada has included launching a national inquiry into the issue of missing and murdered indigenous women, making indigenous leaders part of the COP21 Paris climate talks last year, and promising to treat First Nations, Métis and Inuit as sovereign partners.
"I commit to you that the Government of Canada will walk with you on a path of true reconciliation, in partnership and in friendship. I will not lose sight of that goal," Trudeau said, according to CBC News.
“I will remember the responsibility that comes with the great honour you bestow on me today,” Trudeau said, according to The Globe and Mail. “There is no relationship more important to me and to Canada than the one with First Nations, the Métis nation and the Inuit.”
Photo: Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau poses after receiving a ceremonial headdress while visiting the Tsuut'ina First Nation near Calgary.
More than 100 Treaty Chiefs from all over Canada attended, the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) reported, and they said they would hold Trudeau to his promises.
“We put everything into his hands and he has to prove to us he is going to help us achieve the needs of the First Nations,” elder Alex Crowchild told The Globe and Mail after the ceremony. “He still has to prove himself, but he’s made a commitment. We just have to give him time. If he doesn’t carry it out, it will always be on his mind.”
Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde was honored alongside Trudeau and given the name Xani-tii Sido?i, or “Sitting Buffalo.”
“Canada has failed. Failed on a scale so unimaginably huge,” said TsuuT’ina Chief Roy Whitney at the gathering, which APTN said was named The Thunderbird’s Awakening. “But there’s always hope. There was progress and survival for us. First Nations have arrived at a historic moment in time.”