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Wab Kinew, MLA Fort Rouge
October 26, 2017

Gord Downie

Courage; Bobcaygeon; At the Hundredth Meridian. These words and phrases mean something special in Canada because of Gord Downie. We've heard his music at socials, in the dressing room before hockey games and in the drive-through lineup at Timmy's.

There was that night last summer of his farewell concert where it seemed to be playing on every car radio, on every TV, and with thousands of Manitobans singing along at Assiniboine Park.

I've been very lucky to call Gord a friend these past few years. He loved to go to art galleries to find inspiration for his music. Without a hint of shame he would say I love you to those he knew. He would kiss his family, and increasingly in recent years, even his friends.

On September 30 I emailed him and didn't hear back. Now we know why.

As much as Gord Downie made the soundtrack for Canadian life, he also sought to change this country. He introduced many of us to Chanie Wenjack, a boy who died trying to escape Cecilia Jeffrey residential school. Everyone who listens to Secret Path hears the unfairness of what happened to that little boy, little Charlie Wenjack. It's remarkable.

In his final year this country's poet laureate sang about one of our country's darkest hours. Why? Gord told me, “I want change. The only way around it, is through it.”

And that seems to be the way that he dealt with his cancer as well. He didn't look for a way around it, he lived right on through it.

He showed us we don't have to run from our past. He showed us it's ok to love one other. He showed us that even when cancer robs us of our wit, our strength and our time, that we don't have to be ashamed.

What a remarkable example of courage.

Miigwech, Gord