The death of the iconic Canadian rock star touches a nation profoundly.
Politicians paid tribute to Canadian icon Gord Downie following his death, praising him as a musical legend, loving man and strong advocate for reconciliation with Indigenous people.
The Tragically Hip frontman died Tuesday night at age 53. He was diagnosed with an aggressive and incurable form of brain cancer in 2015.
Tears flowed from an emotional Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as he delivered a statement today on Parliament Hill.
"We are less as a country without Gord Downie in it," he said.
Calling him a friend and an icon, Trudeau said Downie cared deeply about his country and about "every hidden corner, every story" in it.
Trudeau said while everyone knew Downie's death was coming, they hoped it was not.
"It hurts," he said, his eyes red as tears streamed down his face.
Trudeau ordered the flags on the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill and at all federal government buildings in Downie's hometown of Kingston, Ont. to be lowered to half-mast until sunset on the day of the funeral or memorial service.
Although not well-known in the United States, Gord Downie and the band he fronted achieved national reverence in Canada. Their final concert was televised and viewed by an astonishing 16 million Canadians, or half the population. To put that in context, as a percentage, more than watch the Super Bowl in the United States. The New York Times captured it quite well with this:
The place of honor that Mr. Downie occupies in Canada’s national imagination has no parallel in the United States. Imagine Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan and Michael Stipe combined into one sensitive, oblique poet-philosopher, and you’re getting close.