[Tragically Hip] Downie praised for putting Trudeau on spot about indigenous issues – by Joe Friesen (Globe and Mail – August 22, 2016)


Indigenous leaders across Canada expressed their support and gratitude to Tragically Hip singer Gord Downie for placing indigenous issues in the spotlight during the band’s nationally televised concert Saturday, and for applying public pressure to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to take action.

Mr. Downie, who announced in May that he has incurable brain cancer, told the audience that Mr. Trudeau “cares about the people way up North that we were trained our entire lives to ignore.”

“It’s going to take us 100 years to figure out what the hell went on up there but it isn’t cool, and everybody knows that. It’s really, really bad. But we’re going to figure it out. You’re going to figure it out,” Mr. Downie told the live audience in Kingston, Ont., and the millions watching and listening live on CBC.

He said Mr. Trudeau “is going to take us where we need to go,” and that “We’ve got the guy to do it, to start, to help.” Mr. Trudeau, who was in the audience, could be seen on camera nodding as Mr. Downie spoke and appearing to mouth the words, “Thank you.”

Sheila North Wilson, Grand Chief of Northern Manitoba’s MKO First Nations, said she was moved to tears by the way Mr. Downie chose a moment of maximum public exposure to stand with indigenous people.

“The words were very simple but the gesture was huge,” she said. “I hope they don’t fall on deaf ears and hardened hearts. We need to use his words as a call to action, to respect each other,” said Ms. North Wilson.

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