SASKATOON — A First Nations high school student in Saskatoon is giving the prime minister a failing grade for one of his answers.
Grade 12 student Tahris Bear asked Justin Trudeau at an event at her school Wednesday how he'll right the wrongs faced by Canada's indigenous peoples and why he allows them to live in Third World conditions.
Trudeau said Ottawa can't fix the situation on its own, adding that previous, well-meaning federal governments tried, but with horrible consequences.
He said everyone would have to work together.
But Bear said afterward that she didn't think Trudeau answered her question.
She said he didn't offer up any concrete actions for what steps the government would take to make the living conditions better.
"His answer, honestly, went into one ear, out the other," said Bear. "I was trying really hard to focus on what he was saying, but what he said did not have really, almost anything to do with my question."
Trudeau also talked about renewing the relationship with First Nations people.
"Yes, the federal government has a lot of work to do, but indigenous Canadians have a lot of work to do as well and doing it together, in the same direction is going to be how we get through it," said Trudeau.
Earlier this month, a young man in the troubled First Nation of Attawapiskat asked the federal indigenous affairs minister why his community was living in Third World conditions while Canada is greeting refugees with open arms.
Trudeau said April 8 that First Nations communities struggling with persistent Third World conditions should begin seeing some help from Ottawa this year.
The prime minister told Bear that $8.4-billion over five years is planned to help improve conditions for indigenous people.
"It's a good start, but this is going to take many more years and many more billions of dollars to fix a relationship that has been broken for centuries, as you point out," he said.
The Canadian Press