Former N.W.T. premier calls on Trudeau to resign, other leaders disagree

Indigenous leaders across the N.W.T. are divided in their reactions to the recent photos and video of Justin Trudeau in brown and black face.

A 2001 photo of Trudeau dressed in racist makeup surfaced Wednesday evening after it was published by Time Magazine. 

Trudeau told reporters he was dressed as Aladdin for an Arabian Nights themed gala at a Vancouver school, where he taught at the time. He has since apologized for the incident.

Two more instances of Trudeau wearing black and brown face makeup surfaced Thursday morning. 

Former Northwest Territories premier Stephen Kakfwi calls Trudeau’s behaviour unforgivable.

“I think he should come out and be man enough to say, ‘There is real consequences to holding views and taking actions like this and I, Justin Trudeau, will resign,'” he said.

“That’s taking responsibility. Simply saying you’re sorry doesn’t cut it.”

Former N.W.T. premier Stephen Kakfwi says Trudeau has an opportunity to take responsibility for his actions by resigning. (Hilary Bird/CBC)

But not all northern leaders agree.

Tlicho Grand Chief George Mackenzie told CBC he doesn’t think Trudeau should resign, saying “everyone makes mistakes.”

During the 2015 federal election, the Tlicho leadership publicly endorsed N.W.T. Liberal candidate Michael McLeod.

McLeod is now running for a second term as the member of Parliament for the Northwest Territories. In an email, he refused to comment on the photos. His team told CBC to contact Trudeau’s media team.

Tuktoyaktuk Mayor Merven Gruben says Trudeau should not step down in light of the recent photos — he says it should be up to voters to decide his fate.

“Let the people decide when voting day comes. We’re a democratic country,” he said.

“He’s criticized everybody else. He shouldn’t be throwing stones in a glass house. Nobody is perfect.”

Trudeau is scheduled to take questions this afternoon regarding the photos and video.

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