An photograph obtained by TIME magazine shows an image of Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau wearing brownface makeup at a party in 2001. photo sourced from

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has long presented himself as a champion for the world’s liberals by supporting Indigenous and women’s rights, welcoming immigrants and fighting climate change.

But that polished image took a major hit this week when images and a video surfaced of the prime minister dressing up in blackface and brownface in the early 1990s and in 2001.

With voters heading to the polls on Oct. 21, the news has hurt Trudeau’s re-election campaign.

Stephen Kakfwi, former premier of the Northwest Territories, says that Trudeau should resign.

“I think it was totally unacceptable … and I think he should resign after this election whether he wins or loses,” said Kakfwi, adding Trudeau should “absolutely never step into that office as prime minister ever again.”

Stephen Kakfwi, former premier of the Northwest Territories. NNSL file photo

Kakfwi said he watched as the story broke on the evening of Wednesday, Sept. 18 when Time Magazine published a photo of Trudeau dressed as Aladdin, in blackface and a turban, during an Arabian Nights-themed gala.

The photo was from a 2001 yearbook from the Vancouver private school West Point Grey Academy, where Trudeau taught.

Time reported that it had obtained the photo from Vancouver businessman Michael Adamson.

“I found it really upsetting and it made me extremely uneasy because this is a person who is occupying the highest office in this land,” said Kakfwi.

Trudeau held a news conference Wednesday evening on his campaign plane where he apologized and said he “should have known better.”

“I take responsibility for my decision to do that. I shouldn’t have done it,” he said. “I should have known better. It was something that I didn’t think was racist at the time, but now I recognize it was something racist to do and I am deeply sorry.”

Kakfwi said the apology rang “shallow” in large part because it became evident that Trudeau only straightened out his behaviour after he became a Member of Parliament for Papineau in 2008.

He also said the behaviour reflects the characteristics of white “superiority,” “mockery” and “ridicule” that are the “basis of colonial policy and racism.”

Kakfwi said he reflected on his own career after the Trudeau incident, explaining that in 1974 when he was 23, he committed to working with the Dene chiefs to make the land a home for everybody and not just the Dene, even as his own people had their own goals of gaining their traditional land back and seeking equal and fair treatment in society.

In 1987, he ran for office with the commitment to ensuring good governance for all peoples in the NWT – Dene, Metis, Invualuit and non-Indigenous people, he said.

He carried those beliefs into his tenure as premier between 2000 and 2003, he added.

“To have a person who occupies the office of the prime minister who painted himself black  and brown … is not fit for this office,” said Kakfwi.

Kakfwi developed a less than positive view of Trudeau when he was contemplating taking the seat of former Western Arctic Liberal MP Ethel Blondin-Andrew’s in the early 2000s, he said.

“I met Justin a number of times and when he was a member of Parliament and tried over the years to meet with him,” said Kakfwi. “He had been in my house during the last election. I have never found him to have any depth.”

“I always got the impression that he was just spewing lines and creating this persona that he knows will get him elected,” he continued.

Over the last few years, however, Trudeau has come across as pampered, privileged and much like “a kid,” he said.

Simon Whitehouse

Simon Whitehouse came to Yellowknife to work with Northern News Services in 2011. Simon obtained his journalism education at Algonquin College and the University of Ottawa. Simon can be reached at...

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  1. Mabel pleeeeaaase!
    You have to be kiding!
    My god this kid has done everything but slap you across the face!
    He has no ethics no pride ,no compassio ,no emotions what so ever and you defend thos proven lier and narcissist!
    Have you no pride?

  2. Beans 54—It appears that Trudeau is only apologizing again, because he was caught. Funny how he never brought this information forward. A person who is honest would have done so. I can’t help wondering what’s next? What else has he done that he has to apologize for? He is such a sneaky liar. Please do not forget that he threw one of our own under the bus to save SNC Lavalin. It proved that he is a liar and would lie about his behavior to save his own butt. There have been to many apologies, they mean nothing. He could care less about our people. Please do not fall for his untruths.

  3. Good Grief, if you are unable to believe ONE word that comes out of the mouth of the LEADER of this wonderful country, what can you believe. This empty man must go, please, do yourself a favour before we do it for you.

  4. Trudeau needs to be GONE..
    After his coverup with the Lavilin affair, he can’t be trusted.
    He’s a puppet for the United Nations One World Order as is Sheer and Ford
    Trudeau is not going to be forgotten.. there is a criminal indictment
    for him for crimes against humanity.. Even the FakePress can’t help him now.
    NO MORE DEALS… Justice is coming!
    Either research it or VOTE BLIND… Canadians will be depending on you!
    #PPC 2019
    Andrew Scheer’s Alliance With Radical Imams

  5. Mabel A the fact is he did a Harry Bellagonte routine in a high school talent show in black face, obviously as a juvenile. Most people would forgive that ignorance, but since then he has done this at least twice. Once at a fund raising gala where he was a teacher and 29 years of age, and another that he hasn’t explained the circumstances. Having been raised in the very public eye, he should have been very aware that being in black face is inappropriate for any reason. Even for Halloween.

  6. Watching the town hall with Trudeau and couldn’t help seeing Tammy Searason Cooke who is running for the liberal party sitting up front. I have gained a lot of respect for her over the years. But am greatly disappointed in seeing her supporting Trudeau now over how badly he treated Wilson Clarke. If I had a chance to have a question there I would of directed it to her and ask her would you not think it more beneficial to run as a independent and not only support Jody but actually show that you would make a difference for your people and not fall under the Trudeau banner?

  7. Oh my goodness, people are always quick to judge before finding faults as to why Justin had his face painted. Find out the facts 1st before judging, the reason why behind his painted face -could he have been in a play with people he is shown in the picture with? Am sure alot of you have done that in the past, look at some movie actors, you may recall several of them painted their faces. I am not saying Justin is racist, just trying to point out that people all over the world may do what Justin did -paint their face. Not sure if this makes sense, but just putting in my 2 cents.

  8. Thank you for an honest article, and for this gentleman who will say it as he sees it. Your former premier has it way over this Trudeau scamp because he is truthful it seems, and that is what Canada as a whole really needs in it’s government.