Justin Trudeau wore brownface at school party: report

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau allegedly wore brownface at a 2001 party that was documented in a yearbook photograph obtained by Time magazine.

The photo, which Time reported on Wednesday, was reportedly taken at an “Arabian Nights” gala at West Point Grey Academy, a private school where Trudeau was teaching at the time. The photo allegedly appears in the school’s 2000-2001 yearbook.

Zita Astravas, a spokesperson for the Liberal Party of Canada, confirmed to Time that Trudeau is in the picture.

In a briefing Wednesday night with reporters, Trudeau said he apologizes and takes responsibility for the photo and that it was racist to pose in brownface.

“I’m disappointed and pissed off at myself,” he said, adding that the incident calls for “important conversations” with colleagues, fellow candidates and Canadian citizens. He declined to say if resignation was on the table. He also disclosed that as a high school student he once dressed in costume and makeup and sang “Banana Boat Song (Day O).”

12 PHOTOS
Canadian PM Trudeau visits India
See Gallery
Canadian PM Trudeau visits India
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets the people during his visit to the holy Sikh shrine of Golden temple in Amritsar, India February 21, 2018. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, his wife Sophie Gregoire, daughter Ella Grace and son Xavier walk inside the premises of holy Sikh shrine of Golden temple in Amritsar, India February 21, 2018. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, his wife Sophie Gregoire, daughter Ella Grace and son Xavier walk inside the premises of holy Sikh shrine of Golden temple in Amritsar, India February 21, 2018. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, his wife Sophie Gregoire, daughter Ella Grace and son Xavier pose for photographers during their visit to the holy Sikh shrine of Golden temple in Amritsar, India February 21, 2018. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, his wife Sophie Gregoire, daughter Ella Grace and son Xavier pose for photographers during their visit to the holy Sikh shrine of Golden temple in Amritsar, India February 21, 2018. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi
AMRITSAR, INDIA - FEBRUARY 21: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau with their son Xavier and daughter Ella-Grace paying obeisance, on February 21, 2018 at Golden Temple in Amritsar, India. After offering prayers inside the temple, the Trudeau's attended the traditional langar or community meal and performed kar seva at the Golden Temple's community kitchen. (Photo by Sameer Sehgal/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
AMRITSAR, INDIA - FEBRUARY 21: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau with their son Xavier and daughter Ella-Grace paying obeisance, on February 21, 2018 at Golden Temple in Amritsar, India. After offering prayers inside the temple, the Trudeau's attended the traditional langar or community meal and performed kar seva at the Golden Temple's community kitchen. (Photo by Sameer Sehgal/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, his wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, their daughter Ella Grace and son Xavier pose with Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan in Mumbai, India February 20, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, his wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, their daughter Ella Grace and son Xavier pose with Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan in Mumbai, India February 20, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, his wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, their daughter Ella Grace and son Xavier pose with Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan in Mumbai, India February 20, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (R), his wife Sophie Gr�oire Trudeau (L), daughter Ella-Grace (3R) and son Xavier James (2R) speak with Bollywood actor Shahrukh Khan in Mumbai on February 20, 2018. Trudeau and his family are visiting India on a week-long official trip. / AFP PHOTO / INDRANIL MUKHERJEE (Photo credit should read INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP/Getty Images)
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's wife Sophie Gregoire adjusts her head scarf as she walks with her daughter Ella Grace and son Xavier during their visit to the Jama Masjid (Grand Mosque) in the old quarters of Delhi, India, February 22, 2018. REUTERS/Altaf Hussain
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

The brownface photo was taken at the school’s annual dinner, which had an “Arabian Nights” costume theme, Astravas said, adding that Trudeau “attended with friends and colleagues dressed as a character from ‘Aladdin.’”

Time reported that it obtained a copy of the photo from Michael Adamson, a Vancouver businessman who was part of the school’s community but not at the party in question. Adamson reportedly said he first saw the photo in July and believed it should be released to the public.

Time reported that many people at the gala dressed in costume for the dinner, but according to the yearbook’s six photographs of the event, Trudeau appeared to be the only attendee to paint his skin dark.

The incident surfaced just a month before Canadians head to the polls on Oct. 21. HuffPost Canada has the latest election updates.

Jagmeet Singh, leader of Canada’s New Democratic Party and the country’s first visible minority federal leader, called the photo “really insulting,” HuffPost Canada reported.

“We see one Mr. Trudeau in public. I’ll be honest with you, he seems pretty nice, right? Very friendly. Very warm in public,” Singh, who is Sikh, said at a Toronto town hall on Wednesday evening, according to HuffPost Canada. “But behind closed doors he seems like a very different Mr. Trudeau.”

American politicians have also come under fire for previous incidents of blackface. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) apologized for — but also denied being in — a yearbook photo that was publicized earlier this year and showed one man in blackface and another in a Ku Klux Klan hood. Northam did not step down after the incident. 

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) also found herself in hot water this year after a radio interview from the 1960s revealed that she had at one point worn blackface. Ivey apologized, but also did not step down.

HuffPost Canada’s Ryan Maloney contributed to reporting.

This article has been updated with a response from Trudeau.

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.
Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.