Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has issued an apology after a photo of him wearing “brownface” to an “Arabian Nights” party in 2001 surfaced Wednesday night.
The photo made waves after TIME Magazine published a report about the incident. According to TIME, the photograph was taken during a gala at West Point Grey Academy where 29-year-old Trudeau was a teacher at the time.
The photo was featured in the private day school’s 2000-2001 yearbook and was provided to the magazine by Vancouver businessman Michael Adamson, who was a member of the West Point Grey Academy Community.
"Adamson was not at the party, which was attended by school faculty, administrators and parents of students. He said that he first saw the photograph in July and felt it should be made public," writes TIME.
Soon after the photo circulated online and drew criticism, Trudeau, the leader of his country's Liberal Party, apologized, saying that he “should have known better.”
"I shouldn’t have done that. I should have known better and I didn’t. I’m really sorry,” Trudeau told reporters Wednesday night.
He said that he didn’t consider the makeup and costume “racist at the time, but now we know better."
Trudeau also admitted that it wasn’t the only time he had darkened his skin for a costume, saying that he also did it once in high school for a talent show:
“Trudeau said he wore ‘makeup’ in high school to sing ‘Day-O,’ a Jamaican folk song famously performed by African-American singer and civil rights activist Harry Belafonte,” reports TIME. “‘I deeply regret that I did that,’ he said.”
This comes just seven days after Trudeau announced his bid for re-election for a second term as prime minister and as he deals with allegations that he pressured Canada’s former attorney general to drop corruption charges against a large Canadian engineering firm.