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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen at Rideau Cottage, in Ottawa, on June 4, 2020.Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau would not respond directly on Thursday to a video that showed an RCMP officer striking an Inuit man with his truck, but acknowledged generally that systemic discrimination exists in Canada.

The national police force has requested an outside police force conduct a criminal investigation into the actions of one of its officers in Nunavut after the video emerged on social media.

The video was released as protests against police brutality swept across Canada and the United States after the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers.

In response to a question about the RCMP incident at his daily media briefing, Mr. Trudeau said Thursday the country must address challenges in society that are a lived reality for racialized Canadians and Indigenous people.

But he did not specifically comment on the video or the actions of the officer.

“Even as we watch with horror what is going on in the United States, we know we have an awful lot of work to do here in Canada,” Mr. Trudeau said. “As a government, we have taken steps towards that, but as you point out, there is much more to do.”

The incident took place just after 11:30 p.m. on Monday in the small community of Kinngait.

Amanda Jones, the chief superintendent of the Nunavut RCMP, has ordered an independent criminal investigation and an internal one.

The Ottawa Police Service is investigating the officer who was behind the wheel of that truck. The victim was arrested for public intoxication, but not charged and was seen by a nurse while in custody, according to an RCMP statement.

Nunavut Justice Minister Jeannie Ehaloak also issued a statement this week that she met with Chief Supt. Jones to express her “frustration and outrage."

Ms. Ehaloak said she notified the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP and will request a review once the external criminal investigation is done.

“I have seen the video from Kinngait circulating on social media and am very concerned by the unnecessary force, the violence and the lack of respect I have seen,” Ms. Ms. Ehaloak said.

Benson Cowan, the chief executive officer of Nunavut’s Legal Services Board, which oversees legal aid in the vast northern territory of 39,000 people, has described the incident as typical of RCMP behaviour toward Inuit people in Nunavut.

With files from Sean Fine and Marieke Walsh

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