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

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

Blizzard conditions force PM Trudeau's plane to divert

The database is part of a wider initiative called Nanilavut, which means "let's find them" in Inuktitut. "We are sorry that because of our mistakes, many Inuit don't trust the health-care system so they can't get help when they need it".

He and seven of his relatives were stricken with TB, including his mother, sisters and brother, who was first diagnosed in the mid-1940s when one of the ships carrying doctors north to help Inuit reached his family's trading-post village.

"To the communities that are facing the consequences of this policy and others, we are sorry", he said.

The prime minister also used the occasion to announce the launch of a database for Inuit families to use to locate the graves of ancestors who were separated from their relatives during this period.

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.

"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.

Bad weather has postponed a planned apology on TB by Canada's prime minister at this Iqaluit hotel. "Are they going to do it?"

Tuberculosis rates among Inuit are still 290 times higher than among Canadian-born non-Indigenous people, according to a 2018 paper from the Public Health Agency of Canada.

More than half of all Nunavut residents live in often cramped social housing.

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

As for the apology, and the database, Eetoolook said he believes it will bring closure to many Inuit.

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

Towtongie said she was only six years old when her grandmother was relocated to the south of Canada for tuberculosis treatment.

"From the Inuit perspective, apologizing for human-rights abuses is never a bad thing", he said in an interview.

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