Justin Trudeau tattoo: The sweet reason behind Canada PM’s ink

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Mr Trudeau is celebrating a milestone birthday today, as he turns 50 while observing Christmas with the rest of Canada. The Canadian Prime Minister was born in 1971 and recently won re-election in the country’s September federal election for the Liberal Party. His 50th birthday also marks a decade since he completed his little-known tattoo.

What does Justin Trudeau’s tattoo mean?

Despite his thousands of official outings and high-profile status in Canada, many people won’t know about Mr Trudeau’s tattoo.

Few pictures exist showing the body art – a bird-like image on his upper left deltoid.

The choice, which will appear unusual for a politician, comes with a personal significance.

Mr Trudeau has explained the ink himself, stating it is actually a combination of two tattoos.

Writing on Twitter in 2012, he told one user that the first aspect of the tattoo was the planet Earth.

The Earth sits inside the belly of a Haida raven, which he got nearly 20 years after its predecessor.

The PM wrote: “My tattoo is planet Earth inside a Haida raven.”

“The globe I got when I was 23; the Robert Davidson raven for my 40th birthday.”

The Haida raven is a cultural symbol for the indigenous Canadians of the same name who live along the North West Pacific coast of North America.

The raven is a central character in their local mythology, a multifaceted being that unleashed the Sun, stars and Moon from a box, and humans from a cockle shell.

The version Mr Trudeau received a decade ago was drawn by Canadian artist Robert Davidson.

His work, titled “Raven Bringing Light to the World”, represents the Haida raven freeing the Sun and Moon.

The PM has previously been at the receiving end of accusations of cultural appropriation.

The act – which has become taboo in recent years – stipulates that only a culture to which an image or tradition belongs should use it.

Those who “appropriate” them without understanding or partaking in that culture, are misusing it.

Some native Canadians have levelled these accusations at Mr Trudeau.

One Haida tattoo artist, Gregory Williams, likened the act to getting a basketball tattooed on his shoulder.

In an interview with Maclean magazine in 2016, Mr Williams added: “I don’t play basketball.”

Robert Davidson himself has also levelled criticism at the Prime Minister.

Although he said he was initially humoured by the piece, his opinion changed after Mr Trudeau backed a controversial pipeline proposal.

The now-defunct Pacific NorthWest LNG project intended to export natural gas from British Columbia to Asian markets.

The project was scheduled to happen on Mr Davidson’s doorstep, and he said he was “appalled” at the prospect.

At the time, he said the tattoo would amount to “cultural appropriation” if Mr Trudeau did not choose a “new path forward from the path of big oil, big industry”.

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