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Today Canada lost a great icon in Tragically Hip front-man Gord Downie. It is clear that he has influenced Canadians nation-wide, including the Prime Minister, who made a public address just hours after the announcement that the 53-year-old singer had passed away the previous Tuesday night. Trudeau was candid and emotional as he verbalized what Gord Downie meant to him personally and to the country.

‘Gord was my friend, but Gord was everyone’s friend… Our buddy Gord,’ he said (in the most Canadian sentence ever), ‘Who loved this country with everything he had… He loved 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. That’s why his last years were devoted to Chanie Wenjack and to reconciliation, which is something I’ve certainly drawn inspiration and strength from.’

In the last year of his life, Downie was vocal about pushing for reconciliation with the indigenous people of Canada and even collaborated with graphic artist Jeff Lemire to tell the true story of 12-year-old Chanie Wenjack who died fleeing a Canadian residential school in winter.

‘We are less as a country without Gord Downie in it,’ Trudeau concluded tearfully, ‘And we all knew it was coming, but we hoped it wasn’t. I thought I was going to make it through this [speech], but I’m not. It hurts.’

Tributes to the late singer are pouring in on social media from across Canada. He will be greatly missed and forever remembered as a Canadian icon.