The 28th of this month marks the sixth anniversary of Pierre Trudeau’s death.
For those not in the know, Trudeau was one of the most enigmatic Prime Ministers in Canadian History. He was voted into 3rd place during CBC’s Greatest Canadian–despite my better efforts to win him the title, sigh–and you’ll meet very few Canadians who respond indifferently when his name enters conversation.
I was born two years after Trudeau stepped out of office and into private life and I was generally not the most politically aware kid alive. By the time of Trudeau’s death I was a mere year into teendom and the most I knew of the man was that he had a penchant for pirouetting–behind the Queen’s back once!–and that he always wore a rose in his lapel.
Despite this, his death impacted me significantly. The outpouring of grief within and outside of the country and the strong opinions of his time as Prime Minister surfacing as the nostalgia set in was a very bizarre and curious thing to me. Canadians coming out for… Canada? What? I’d never seen such a thing before. Or thought it remotely possible.
At that time my own identity as a Canadian was practically non-existant. I’d spent a lot of my childhood romanticizing America because one of my earliest ambitions was to be a famous movie star (original, no?) and Canada was the farthest thing from Hollywood in my mind. Everything happened in America! Everything!
So basically, I was a very apathetic Canadian but the public response to Trudeau’s death was so great I knew I’d missed something and because I absolutely hate being left out, I decided to read up on the man and find out what the big deal was.
I will always be glad I did.
Trudeau’s pride in Canada fascinated me and gave me the beginnings of my own national pride. He referred to Canada as “this country we carry within ourselves,” and the implications of that really got me because I’d never thought of it that way, or heard it put that way. His vision and ideas for Canada incited me. I was excited about the progress we’ve made as a country and all the potential we still have.
And hello domino effect. My interest in Trudeau immediately lead to an interest in Canadian history which immediately lead to an interest in Canadian politics and then our arts, entertainment and on and on and on. I fell in love with Canada and six years later I still am. I couldn’t be prouder of the place I call home.
I have Trudeau to thank for that.
“Our hopes are high. Our faith in the people is great. Our courage is strong. And our dreams for this beautiful country will never die.”