‘I felt betrayed’: North-Okanagan Shuswap candidate responds to Trudeau brownface photo

‘I felt betrayed’: North-Okanagan Shuswap candidate responds to Trudeau brownface photo

Harwinder Sandhu dismisses comments that there are bigger issues to focus on

Controversial images of Canada’s prime minister as a younger man in brownface and blackface have struck a nerve with North-Okanagan Shuswap candidate Harwinder Sandhu.

“It does hurt – I’m still in shock actually,” Sandhu told the Observer on Thursday after images surfaced showing a 29-year-old Trudeau wearing brownface at a 2001 “Arabian Nights” party, and of Trudeau in blackface makeup in his high school talent show.

“It was a dumb thing to do,” Trudeau said during an emergency news conference on the Liberal campaign plane before taking off for Winnipeg. “I’m disappointed in myself, I’m pissed off at myself for having done it. I wish I hadn’t done it, but I did it, and I apologize for it.”

Read more: Yearbook photo surfaces of Trudeau wearing ‘brownface’ costume in 2001

Read more: ‘Troubling, insulting’: NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh reacts to Trudeau’s brownface photo

Sandhu first read the news about the controversial photos on Wednesday, Sept. 18, after she arrived home from work.

“First I was shocked,” Sandhu said. “I felt betrayed because regardless of my political belief – I used to believe Trudeau is much more accepting compared to previous leaders we’ve had.”

After immigrating from India to Canada in 2001, Sandhu was widowed at an early age. She moved to Vernon to be with her kids and has since remarried and raised her family. Aside from her candidacy for the North Okanagan-Shuswap NDP, Sandhu is a registered nurse and works with organizations like the BC Nurses Union to advocate for health-care workers and patients.

Read more: ‘I shouldn’t have done it,’ Trudeau says of brownface photo

Read more: Trudeau election plane damaged in Victoria after media bus drives under wing

While she has tried to give Trudeau the benefit of the doubt, ultimately it is the years of racism she has experienced that has helped her come to terms with the news.

“Speaking for myself, you develop a thick skin,” Sandhu said. “That’s what I try to teach my daughters – don’t take it personal.”

After reading the comments below articles about the controversy, she is devastated to see people writing to say there are other problems that politicians should be focused on.

“When people say there are bigger issues, I believe this is the biggest issue,” Sandhu said. “We need to work together, we cannot do this without everybody’s help and we cannot shove this issue under the carpet.”

Read more: Trudeau promises added incentives for first-time home buyers

Read more: As three leaders prepare to debate, Trudeau accused of ducking record


@CameronJHT
Cameron.thomson@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Justin Trudeau, now the prime minister of Canada, appears in dark makeup on his face, neck and hands at a 2001 ‘Arabian Nights’-themed party at the West Point Grey Academy, the private school where he taught. Photo by TIME

Justin Trudeau, now the prime minister of Canada, appears in dark makeup on his face, neck and hands at a 2001 ‘Arabian Nights’-themed party at the West Point Grey Academy, the private school where he taught. Photo by TIME

Just Posted

11 more cases of COVID-19 have been linked to a cluster on Big White Mountain. Pictured above is TELUS park at Big White Ski Resort, Jan. 26. (Big White Ski Resort)
11 more cases of COVID-19 linked to Big White cluster

This brings the total case count to 225, according to health authorities in a Tuesday update

Okanagan Clinical Trials is looking at gut bacteria as a way of slowing down the development of Alzheimer’s. (Alzheimer Society of B.C. photo)
Okanagan study looking for volunteers of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s

The study is looking at how gut bacteria may help slow the disease

Kevin Lee Barrett pleaded guilty to the aggravated assault of his mother Eleanor Holmes on Tuesday, Jan. 26. (File)
West Kelowna man accused of trying to kill his mom pleads guilty to assault

Kevin Barrett entered a surprise guilty plea to the lesser charge of aggravated assault on Tuesday morning

A bus at downtown Kelowna’s Queensway Transit Exchange. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
Kelowna transit system poised for recovery: transit manager

2021 numbers already show ridership levels at or higher than the projected recovery

Kelowna seen from the top of Knox Mountain. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News file)
Homeownership unattainable for many Kelowna residents

Single-person and single-parent households often have limited options when it comes to housing

Dr. Penny Ballem, a former deputy health minister, discusses her role in leading B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccination program, at the B.C. legislature, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. holds steady with 407 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday

14 deaths, no new outbreaks in the health care system

Vernon now has an approved 13 cannabis shops in town. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Vernon, the ‘Pot capital of B.C.’ greenlights two new stores downtown

Two more shops, within 240 metres, approved, despite neighbouring businesses opposition

Jonathon Muzychka and Dean Reber are wanted on Canada-wide warrants. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
Convicted killer, robber at large after failing to return to facility: Victoria police

Dean Reber, 60, and Jonathon Muzychka, 43, may be together

Oliver Elementary School
Former Oliver PAC treasurer charged with fraud returns to court

Belinda Yorke will be in court to fix a date for trial in February

Two fibreglass bees were stolen from Vernon’s Planet Bee Honey Farm Nov. 22, 2020. (Facebook)
Stolen bee returned to Vernon honey farm

Two months after thieves buzzed off with two bee sculptures, public tips led police one of them

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens during a postelection news conference in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
30% of B.C. recovery benefit applications held up in manual review

The province says 150 staff have been reassigned to help with manually reviewing applications

Adam Dergazarian, bottom center, pays his respect for Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, in front of a mural painted by artist Louie Sloe Palsino, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Kobe Bryant’s presence remains strong a year after his death

Tuesday marks the grim anniversary of the crash that took their lives

Alexandra “Annabelle” Lee and her grandpa Bryan Weightman enjoyed a shopping spree at the Sicamous Askew’s foods location after Weightman won a draw for a gift card. (Submitted)
Sicamous seven-year-old fills grandparents’ shopping cart after contest win

When her grandparents won an Askew’s Foods gift card, Alexandra Lee got to handle the shopping

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read