Trudeau to apologize for handling of Inuit who died during TB treatment

Trudeau to apologize for handling of Inuit who died during TB treatment

Trudeau to apologize for handling of Inuit who died during TB treatment

While Prime Minister's Office staff in the capital of Nunavut voiced hope initially that Trudeau could arrive later in the evening, the whiteout conditions and wind chill temperatures of -45 C - winds gusted to almost 80 km/h - soon made it evident the event would be postponed until Friday morning at the earliest.

Eetoolook said the apology and database will bring closure to many Inuit.

"To the communities that are facing the consequences of this policy and others, we are sorry", he said. The prime minister also apologized to those who still do not know what happened to their loved ones. "Some of the (burial grounds) will be hard to find". "We are sorry for forcing you from your families, for not showing you the respect and care you deserved. We are sorry for the colonial mindset that drove the federal government's actions".

"That's what this project is about", Trudeau said.

The apology had been in the works for the better part of two years, since Trudeau signed an Inuit-Crown partnership agreement in 2017. His organization acts as the national voice of the roughly 60,000 Inuit living in four sections of northern Canada.

"From the Inuit perspective, apologizing for human rights abuses is never a bad thing", he said. "This story matters", he said.

Those who underwent the treatments often lived for long periods of times in sanatoriums.

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.

"We've heard a lot about families that heard that their loved one passed away, or getting a telegram of their loved one passing away, but there was no details about where their loved one was buried, if there was a funeral service", said Jeannie arreak-Kullualik, the chief operating officer for Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.

But the report said progress has been made in tracing all cases of infectious TB, screening of school age children, faster diagnosis and earlier treatments.

Trudeau reiterated Friday his government's two-year-old pledge to develop a plan to eliminate tuberculosis among Inuit. "Are they going to do it?"