Small groups of Water Protectors scattered throughout the crowd of about 1,200 people held up anti-pipeline signs and shouted, ‘Keep it in the ground.’

 Another protector, seated directly behind the prime minister, held up a sign that read “Water is sacred.”

As a handful of demonstrators challenged him, Trudeau asked for permission to continue and answer people’s questions.

“I know you have a voice. I’ve just heard it,” he said.

“I’m asking you can I have permission to continue in my town hall with Canadians who came out to meet with their prime minister?”

Most in the crowd applauded strongly when Trudeau asked the Water Protectors to let him speak.

There were questions about poor housing conditions on reserves, boil-water advisories and high rates of kids in the child welfare system.

Winnipeg is home to Canada’s largest urban aboriginal population. Trudeau admitted his government has much more work to do.

“I have talked about the fact that Canada has failed … in a fundamental relationship that we were supposed to get right,” he said.

“We’re not moving as fast as I’d like on that path. I absolutely agree. But it’s a difficult path to walk. There are decades of wrongs to undo.”

Earlier in the day, Trudeau was greeted by Water Protectors shouting “Water is life” as he walked through the University of Regina to meet students. Trudeau replied that he agreed and continued to make his way down a long corridor packed with students trying to squeeze in a selfie with him.

There were also people carrying placards that said “People over Pipelines.”

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