Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau has received heavy criticism for his response to a First Nations protestor at a Liberal party fundraiser event last night in Toronto. According to reports and a video of the event, when confronted about mercury poisoning on Grassy Narrows First Nations land, Trudeau merely thanked him "very much for your donation tonight, I really appreciate the donation to the Liberal Party of Canada."

"Smugger words have never been said," wrote an activist organization online.

Perry Bellegarde, chief of the Assembly of First Nation, has since taken to Twitter to call Trudeau's comments "unacceptable and offensive." He continues: "he should apologize directly to people involved and should visit and Wabaseemoong to see the impacts firsthand. Above all, it’s time for action for children and families in these First Nations."

A video of Trudeau's exchange with the protestor was posted to Twitter by activists:

Jagmeet Singh, NDP leader, has also responded to Trudeau's words, calling them an example of "colonial disregard for Indigenous lives."

Now, the prime minister has expressed regret about his attitude and comments. "I lacked respect," he told reporters on Thursday morning.

According to Global News, mercury contamination has been a problem for the Grassy Narrows First Nation for decades. Studies have suggested that Grassy Narrows members have had a shorter life expectancy as a result, the Global News report continues.

Read more about mercury poisoning at the Grassy Narrows First Nation on the Free Grassy Narrows website, which documents incidents of contamination and advocates for nation members.

Stay tuned.


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