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Controversial photo of Trudeau surfaces from Vancouver yearbook
Published Thursday, September 19, 2019 7:58AM PDT Last Updated Thursday, September 19, 2019 6:47PM PDT
Controversial photos released of Liberal leader Justin Trudeau wearing blackface and brownface makeup are sure to be the focus of federal election campaigns across the country Thursday.
Wednesday night, a photo was released of the party leader from the 2000-01 yearbook of Vancouver's West Point Grey Academy where Trudeau was a teacher at the time.
The photo, taken at an "Arabian Nights" themed dinner showed Trudeau dressed up as Aladdin wearing full-face makeup.
During a news conference, where he apologized for the photo and acknowledged it was racist, Trudeau also admitted to a second image from his own high school where he "dressed up at a talent show and sang Day-O. With make up on."
A video of Trudeau from the 1990s, first obtained by Global News, has also surfaced. The footage shows a younger Trudeau in blackface while wearing a white T-shirt, raising his arms, which were also covered in black makeup.
It's unclear when and where the video was taken, but the party has confirmed it is the Liberal leader.
Speaking to media on Thursday in Winnipeg, Trudeau said he's sorry for his actions.
"This is something that I deeply, deeply regret," he said. "Darkening your face…is always unacceptable because of the racist history of blackface."
He said, at the time, he didn't realize how hurtful his actions were and that his "privilege … comes with a massive blind spot."
"I didn't see that from the layers of privilege that I have and I am deeply sorry and I apologize," he said, adding that he never brought the incidents forward during any political vetting processes.
"Quite frankly I was embarrassed," he explained. "It is not something that represents the person I've become … and it was really embarrassing."
Trudeau would not confirm if these photos and the video showed all the incidents of him wearing blackface and brownface.
"I am wary of being definitive of this because the recent pictures that came out I had not remembered," he said. "The question is, how could you not remember that? The fact is I didn't understand how hurtful this is to be people who experience discrimination every day."
Early on Thursday, Trudeau said he would spend the morning talking to his three kids about "taking responsibility for mistakes we make" and talking to visible minority Liberal MPs and candidates.
Trudeau said he'd be spending Thursday morning talking to his three kids about "taking responsibility for mistakes we make" and talking to visible minority Liberal MPs and candidates.
CTV News Vancouver reached out to West Point Grey Academy for comment but has not received a response yet.
NDP leader Jagmeet Singh responded to the photos Wednesday, saying that kids who see this photo will be reminded of times they were discriminated against.
"I want to talk to all the kids out there, all the folks that lived this and are now grown up and still feeling the pain of racism," Singh said after the video was released.
"I want you to know that you might feel like giving up on Canada. You might feel like giving up on yourselves. I want you to know that you have value, you have worth, you are loved.
Conservative leader Andrew Scheer also denounced the image saying "it was just as racist in 2001 as it is in 2019," while Green leader Elizabeth May said Trudeau "must apologize for the harm done and commit to learning and appreciating the requirement to model social justice leadership at all levels of government."
Trudeau has spent most mornings of this election campaign making a policy announcement followed by a media availability. Thursday that wasn't the case. Reporters covering the Liberal campaign were told that he is not expected to make any public appearances in the morning. He is planning to speak to reporters at 1:15 p.m. CDT in Winnipeg.
With files from The Canadian Press and CTV News Ottawa's Rachel Aiello