Justin Trudeau apologizes for wearing brownface at school event in 2001

Justin Trudeau
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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued an apology after Time posted a photo of him wearing brownface at a school event in 2001.

The photo was taken from an end-of-the-year gala themed "Arabian Nights", which he attended while he was a teacher at a private school in 2001.


Talking to reporters on an airplane, Trudeau apologized for the brownface photo, saying "I shouldn't have done it. I should have known better, but I didn't. And I'm really sorry." He admits that what he did was racist but he did not consider it racist at the time the photo was taken.

Zita Astravas, speaking on behalf of Trudeau's party, the Liberal Party of Canada, said that the future prime minister, wearing a turban, went to the event with friends and colleagues and was dressed as a character from Aladdin. Trudeau also admitted to putting on makeup for a high school talent show where he sang.

Green Party leader Elizabeth May reacted to the photo by tweeting "I was deeply shocked by the racism shown in the photograph. He must apologize for the harm done and commit to learning and appreciating the requirement to model social justice leadership at all levels of government. In this matter he has failed."


CNN affiliate Time reported on the existence of the photo.

Currently, Trudeau is running for reelection as the country's prime minister and is considered in a virtual tie with Conservative party candidate Andrew Scheer. Trudeau said "I stand here before Canadians as I will throughout this campaign and talk about the work we have to do to make a better country together. And I am going to continue to stay focused on that and continue to work to fight intolerance and discrimination, even though obviously I made a mistake in the past."

Trudeau was sworn into office in November 2015 and he will be running for the same position again in the October 21 election.