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Trudeau Forced To Apologize For Complimenting Native Senator. Still, Activists Demand More


Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says is very sorry that he called Conservative Sen. Patrick Brazeau “the scrappy tough-guy senator from an Indigenous community.” He “regrets” the comments.

But as he begs for forgiveness for what many would see as good-natured compliment, First Nations groups are demanding he write a letter to Rolling Stone magazine “so the same people who read that article actually get to learn from the humility of him saying what he did was wrong and why it was wrong,” according to Cindy Blackstock, the executive director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society.

Blackstock says the comments trigger images of “the savage and the civilized” stereotypes of Natives and non-Natives.

Trudeau made the remarks in an interview that was part of a hagiographic Rolling Stone cover story on the Canadian PM. The aging rocker mag asks the question below a glamor shot of Trudeau: “Why can’t he be our president?”

Trudeau made the remarks about Brazeau — who is no stranger to controversy and the courts — in regard to a charity boxing match that Trudeau was organizing in 2012 while he was still just a celebrity member of Parliament from Montreal. He says he was looking for a worthy opponent to face him in the ring, so he focused on the Quebec senator, who is also a member of the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation.

“I wanted someone who would be a good foil, and we stumbled upon the scrappy tough-guy senator from an Indigenous community. He fit the bill and it was a very nice counterpoint,”

But before he could even be held to account for the compliment, Trudeau had second thoughts and confessed in a CBC interview that he had regrets.

“I try and make sure that we’re staying focused on recognizing that true reconciliation involves changing approaches and changing mindset. The way I framed it and characterized that doesn’t contribute to the positive spirit of reconciliation that I like to think and I know my government stands for.”

Repentance is not good enough for some Canadian Natives, who in have become increasingly militant in their demands since Trudeau became prime minister.

Blackstock shakes her head at Trudeau’s lack of sensitivity.

“The idea that you would go searching for an Indigenous person to engage in an exercise with the aim, really, of making yourself look good, as that seems to imply, is disturbing.”

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