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

IQALUIT, Nunavut — The prime minister is to deliver an apology today on behalf of the federal government in what is expected to be an emotionally charged event marking decades-old mistreatment of Inuit sickened in tuberculosis outbreaks.

Justin Trudeau is to offer the apology in person while visiting Iqaluit, the capital of Nunavut.

Perhaps more importantly, sources familiar with today’s planned event, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss an announcement that isn’t yet public, say the prime minister will also announce the opening of a database that Inuit families can soon use to find loved ones who died when they were transported south for treatment.

Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett, who will accompany the prime minister, told a Senate committee last month that Trudeau would issue the statement as part of a process called Nanilavut, which means “let’s find them” in Inuktitut.

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

Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., the organization that speaks for Inuit in Nunavut, has said it wants to help family members locate burial sites of those who died during tuberculosis treatment from the 1940s through the 1960s, whose bodies were buried in southern Canada instead of being returned to their relatives.

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