A bombshell photo of Canadian leader Justin Trudeau emerged on Tuesday that showed him wearing blackface to a party in 2001 that was held at the private school where he was teaching.
“The photograph has not been previously reported. The picture was taken at an ‘Arabian Nights’-themed gala. It shows Trudeau, then the 29-year-old son of the late former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, wearing a turban and robes with his face, neck and hands completely darkened,” TIME reported. “The photograph appears in the 2000-2001 yearbook of West Point Grey Academy, a private day school where Trudeau was a teacher.”
TIME received a copy of the yearbook earlier this month from Vancouver businessman Michael Adamson, “who was part of the West Point Grey Academy community” and “felt [the photo] should be made public.”
Zita Astravas, who works in media relations in Liberal Party of Canada, which Trudeau is the leader of, confirmed that Trudeau was the person in the photo wearing blackface: “It was a photo taken while he was teaching in Vancouver, at the school’s annual dinner which had a costume theme of ‘Arabian Nights.’ He attended with friends and colleagues dressed as a character from Aladdin.”
During a press conference with reporters following the TIME report, Trudeau admitted that he has worn blackface on numerous occasions and he dodged questions about whether he would resign over the scandal.
“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,” Trudeau said. “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.”
“I shouldn’t have done it. I should have known better, but I didn’t,” Trudeau continued. “And I’m really sorry.”
Trudeau noted another time he wore blackface, saying: “When I was in high school I dressed up at a talent show and sang ‘Day O’ with makeup on.”
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) September 18, 2019
Green Party leader Elizabeth May slammed Trudeau over the photo, tweeting: “I am deeply shocked by the racism shown in the photograph of Justin Trudeau. 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.”
I am deeply shocked by the racism shown in the photograph of Justin Trudeau. 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.
— Elizabeth May (@ElizabethMay) September 19, 2019
“Trudeau taught classes, including French, until he left after the spring of 2001,” TIME added. “West Point Grey Academy is currently among the most expensive private day schools in Vancouver, with annual tuition ranging from just under $22,000 to about $23,500. During his 2015 election campaign, Trudeau downplayed his experience at the private academy, instead focusing on his time teaching at a public school in Vancouver.”
The Trudeau blackface scandal comes after Virginia Democrat Governor Ralph Northam admitted earlier this year to being in a photo that contained a person wearing blackface and another person wearing a KKK hood.
Northam initially admitted to being in the photo and then walked back his claim and has continued to deny that he was ever in the photo.