Trudeau apologizes for government’s past mistreatment of Inuit with TB

Modesto Morganelli
Marzo 11, 2019

Trudeau was scheduled to make a public appearance in Nunavut's capital city to issue an apology for the Canadian government's past mistreatment of Inuit who went south to seek treatment for tuberculosis in the mid-21st century.

With a flawless political storm threatening to engulf his government in Ottawa, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau set off to Iqaluit on Thursday - only to be denied by a severe winter storm in the Arctic city.

He also announced Friday the opening of a database that Inuit families can soon use to find loved ones who died when they were transported south for treatment.

The apology had been in the works for the better part of two years, since Trudeau signed an Inuit-Crown partnership agreement in 2017.

Inuit tuberculosis survivor James Eetoolook was sent for treatment at the age of 16 in Edmonton where he was in the hospital and bedridden for months.

Eetoolook said the apology and database will bring closure to many Inuit. His organization acts as the national voice of the roughly 60,000 Inuit living in four sections of northern Canada.

"It is a Canadian story and I recognize there are other media stories that matter as well, but I do hope in the future, there can be more respect given to the place and time and the people who deserve to have their story told and the media that have a strong role to play to tell it".

During this time Inuit people were transported to southern Canada for tuberculosis treatment, and were often placed in health care systems for years where they were unfamiliar with the languages, food, and culture.

Now, as vice president of Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., Eetoolook worries that TB is returning to higher levels once again in an age when it simply should not be happening. "Are they going to do it?"

"It will help the families that had loved ones that died", he predicted.

The agency cited social housing and overcrowding as one of the main culprits. "We as a country have to also accept responsibility for things that happened and know that apologies are necessary for classes of people whose human rights have been violated".

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