Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologises for wearing a racist "brownface" at 2001 school event
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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologises for wearing a racist "brownface" at 2001 school event

CANADIAN PRIME Minister Justin Trudeau has issued a frank apology after pictures surfaced of him wearing racist “brownface” make-up at a fancy-dress party in 2001.

Pictures obtained and published by Time Magazine show Trudeau in make-up giving him the appearance of having darkened his skin while wearing a turban and robes.

The picture comes from an Arabian Nights-themed gala event at West Point Grey Academy in Vancouver in 2001.

Trudeau was 29 and a teacher at the private school when the picture was taken.

The image as surfaced ahead of a general election in Canada on October 21, with Trudeau hoping to win re-election on the back of a raft of progressive policies.

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Speaking to reporters in the wake of the image’s publication, the Canadian Prime Minister said he "deeply regretted" his actions and "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 recognise it was something racist to do and I am deeply sorry."

Trudeau also confirmed that he had worn similar make-up during a performance at a high school talent show.

The image of the Canadian prime minister performing in brownface has since surfaced on Twitter.

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It was taken while Trudeau was a student at Jean Brebeuf High School.

Asked if there had been other occasions, he said he had also worn make-up while performing in a high school talent show.

An image from that second incident has since appeared on Twitter of Mr Trudeau when he was at Jean Brebeuf High School.

A previous visitor to Ireland, Trudeau’s Irish ancestry was chronicled during a visit to the Irish Emigration Museum:

“Through his mother, Margaret Sinclair, he is a direct descendant of the Bernard family from County Cork.

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“In 1661 Francis Bernard married Mary Freake and had a large family consisting of 6 daughters and 2 sons. Francis died in 1689 defending Castlemahon against a Jacobite attack in the Williamite Wars.

“Prime Minister Trudeau is descended from their younger son, Arthur Bernard, who was High Sheriff of Cork in 1697 and M.P. for Bandon from 1713-14.

“In 1695 Arthur Bernard married Anne Power, of Mount Eglantine, County Waterford. The Powers and their relatives the Boyles were very involved in the intellectual milieu (elite) of late 17th and early 18th Century Ireland.

“Arthur and Anne also had a large family, ten daughters and four sons, including Trudeau’s great (x6) grandfather Francis Bernard (their third son).

“Francis got his degree from Trinity College in 1729, but as a younger son had to carve out a career as he would never inherit land. He relocated to England.

“His grandson’s generation relocated to Singapore and Malaysia, which was then part of the colonial Indian ‘station.’ They remained there for a century, until 1906 when the Bernards emigrated to Canada.”