The reveal of Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s blackface and brownface images has turned the election campaign upside down.
The photos and video, which showed Trudeau wearing racist makeup in three different instances, prompted supporters and critics to weigh in on the fallout the Liberal leader faces just weeks from voting day.
Others, however, have taken to speaking about the issue outside the realm of the political race, focusing instead on how Trudeau’s actions are indicative of a larger problem facing Canadians and the politicians they elect as a whole.
On Sunday’s The West Block, Terry Teegee, Savannah Sutherland and Sydney Henry spoke with host Mercedes Stephenson on how racism and white supremacy in a multicultural Canada have affected them personally.
WATCH: The impact of Trudeau’s blackface controversy on racialized communities
Terry Teegee, regional chief of the British Columbia Assembly of First Nations: My whole life I’ve dealt with racism, you know, being brown-skinned. I think that issue is — it is hurtful. You tend to, as a person of colour, to grow a thick skin. What’s troublesome about this normalization of racism is that it’s our youth — it’s our children that have to deal with it. What … I say to my children is that it is OK to be brown. It’s OK to be Indigenous and we should be celebrating our differences, and quite frankly, that we are all equals in this country. And this idea of Canada is supposed to be built on tolerance and love and acceptance of different people from different areas. And in our culture, we accept people. We accept their differences and matter of fact, we celebrate their differences.
WATCH: Trudeau controversy dominating election campaign
Savannah Sutherland, student at the University of British Columbia: I hope that we finally hold politicians to higher standards, because everyone just assumed Trudeau would do what he said he would do. I hope he realized that white supremacy is a real problem in multicultural Canada and that us just being, ‘Oh, Canada’s multicultural,’ just erases all the experiences of other people of colour.
Sydney Henry, student at the University of British Columbia: I would like to say that I get angry about it, but I think that requires an element of surprise, an element of unique experience. We’ve seen this before. We’ve seen things like this on a daily basis, so at this point, it’s almost exhausting as opposed to infuriating. My hope moving forward is that everyone holds themselves to a higher standard, where you are constantly considering and reconsidering the decisions that you make. And not in a micromanaging way, but in a way that is considerate of those around you.