Justin Trudeau: Canada PM in ‘brownface’ 2001 yearbook picture

Justin Trudeau 'in 2001 brownface yearbook photo'

Picture copyright
Time Journal

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has apologised for carrying “brownface” make up at a non-public college gala practically twenty years in the past.


The 2001 yearbook image obtained by Time Journal exhibits Mr Trudeau with skin-darkening make-up on his face and fingers on the West Level Gray Academy.

Addressing the picture, Mr Trudeau mentioned he “deeply regretted” his actions and “ought to have recognized higher”.


The prime minister is battling for re-election on 21 October.

Mr Trudeau, son of the late former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, used to show on the Vancouver personal college.

The picture is politically embarrassing for the prime minister as a result of he has made progressive insurance policies a signature challenge.

How did Trudeau reply?

Talking to journalists after the Time article was revealed, Mr Trudeau mentioned he had dressed up within the picture in an Aladdin costume at an Arabian Nights-themed gala.

“I take accountability for my choice to try this. I should not have performed it.

“I ought to have recognized higher. It was one thing that I did not suppose was racist on the time, however now I recognise it was one thing racist to do and I’m deeply sorry.”

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Media captionJustin Trudeau instructed reporters: “I ought to have recognized higher, however I did not”

When requested if there had been different events, Mr Trudeau instructed reporters he had additionally worn make-up when he was a pupil acting at a expertise present in highschool.

A picture from that incident has since been posted to Twitter.

A supply has confirmed for the BBC it’s from the incident to which Mr Trudeau referred on the information convention.

What’s ‘brownface’?

Like “blackface”, “brownface” usually refers to when somebody paints their face darker to look like somebody with a unique pores and skin color.

The follow is related to minstrel performances – in previous centuries, white actors might be seen with their faces painted black, caricaturing African-People, and perpetuating offensive and racist stereotypes.

Lately, there have been a number of controversies involving politicians, celebrities and types accused of “blackface”, “brownface” or “yellowface”.

On Wednesday, Mr Trudeau mentioned “brownface” was “a major factor that could be very hurtful” to “communities and individuals who dwell with intersectionalities and face discrimination”.

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Mustafa Farooq, govt director of the Nationwide Council of Canadian Muslims, mentioned: “Seeing the prime minister in brownface/blackface is deeply saddening. The carrying of blackface/brownface is reprehensible, and hearkens again to a historical past of racism and an Orientalist mythology which is unacceptable.

The council added that it recognised “individuals can change and evolve over twenty years”. Later, the council issued a tweet thanking Mr Trudeau for apologising promptly.

What is the political response been?

The image was racist in 2001 and is racist now, mentioned Andrew Scheer, chief of the opposition Conservatives.

“What Canadians noticed this night is somebody with a complete lack of judgement and integrity and somebody who isn’t match to control this nation,” he mentioned.

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Media caption4 years of Justin Trudeau in two minutes

New Democratic Social gathering chief Jagmeet Singh, a Sikh, mentioned the picture was “troubling” and “insulting”.

“Any time we hear examples of brownface or blackface, it is making a mockery of somebody for what they dwell and what their lived experiences are,” Mr Singh instructed journalists on the marketing campaign path in Toronto.

The picture was additionally criticised in a tweet by Inexperienced Social gathering chief Elizabeth Might.

Mr Trudeau has taken a pro-immigration stance as prime minister, and labored to enchantment to ethnic minority voters.

Nonetheless, his costume selections have attracted criticism prior to now – together with throughout a 2018 official go to to India, when his intensive vary of conventional Indian outfits had been mocked as “ridiculously overdressed”.

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Opinion polls point out October’s election might be a tricky race for Mr Trudeau who’s looking for a second time period in workplace.

His marketing campaign obtained off to a foul begin after his airplane was grounded by a scraped wing on the primary day. A bus ferrying journalists collided with the wing of the Liberal get together’s chartered Boeing final week.

Earlier this yr, within the US, Virginia governor Ralph Northam admitted he had worn blackface whereas dressing up as Michael Jackson.

Nonetheless he denied being in a racist in his 1984 medical college yearbook.