For nearly a half a century, The Tragically Hip were at the nucleus of Canadian rock. The late Gord Downie, who passed away on Tuesday (Oct. 17) night after a fight with brain cancer, was at the forefront of it all.
Downie was known for his deep love of his home country, speaking out regarding making amends with indigenous people after their era of suffering via Canada’s residential schools. Even in The Hip’s last concert, Downie made a point to call out into the crowd to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who was in attendance, to request his service in aiding reconciliation.
On Wednesday (Oct. 18), Trudeau released a heartfelt statement addressing the death of such a widely loved Canadian icon. In the statement, Trudeau drew attention to Downie’s lasting musical legacy, as well as his passion for making the country better through his last days.
Read the entire statement, below.
“For almost five decades, Gord Downie uncovered and told the stories of Canada. He was the frontman of one of Canada’s most iconic bands, a rock star, artist, and poet whose evocative lyrics came to define a country.
The Tragically Hip’s music invited us to explore places we had never been – from Mistaken Point to Churchill – and helped us understand each other, while capturing the complexity and vastness of the place we call home.
Gord’s command of language was profound. He painted landscapes with his words, elevating Canadian geography, historical figures, and myths. When he spoke, he gave us goosebumps and made us proud to be Canadian. Our identity and culture are richer because of his music, which was always raw and honest – like Gord himself.
In the wake of his diagnosis, Gord only fought harder for what he believed in: social justice, environmentalism, and reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples. Before passing, he shined his light on the story of 12-year-old Chanie Wenjack who died from hunger and exposure after trying to find his way home from a residential school. For his work raising awareness of Indigenous issues, he was inducted as a member of the Order of Canada in 2017.
Gord did not rest from working for the issues he cared about, and his commitment and passion will continue to motivate Canadians for years to come.
On behalf of all Canadians, Sophie and I offer our deepest condolences to Gord’s family, friends, bandmates and crew members, and his many, many fans. He will be sorely missed.”