Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke to the parliamentary press this morning, delivered tearful remarks upon news that the Tragically Hip’s frontman and friend, Gord Downie, had passed away this morning.
“We lost one of the very best of us this morning. Gord was my friend. Gord was everyone’s friend. It’s who we were were. Our buddy Gord, who loved this country with everything he had and not just loved it in a nebulous, ‘Oh, I love Canada’ way. He loved it every hidden corner, every story, every aspect of this country that he celebrated his whole life. He wanted to make it better. He knew as great as we were, we needed to be better than we are and that’s why his last years were devoted to Chanie Wenjack and to reconciliation. This is something that I’ve certainly drawn inspiration and strength from and we are less as a country without Gord Downie in it. And we all knew it was coming, but we hoped it wasn’t. I thought I was going to make it through this but I’m not. It hurts.”
Originally from Kingston, Ont., Downie formed the Tragically Hip with four high school friends. The band had pockets of supporters all over the world, but nothing like the popularity it enjoyed in Canada. Downie led his band to 16 Juno music awards, a star on the Canadian Walk of Fame, and immortalization on a postage stamp in 2013.
Beyond his musical career, Downie was always an advocate for Indigenous rights and environmental protection. His commitment to improving the lives of Canada’s Indigenous people earned him an honorary title “Wicapi Lomani”, meaning “the man who walks among the stars” from the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations Perry Bellegarde.