Downie had been diagnosed with an aggressive and incurable form of brain cancer called glioblastoma, which was discovered after he suffered a seizure in December 2015. He passed away last night (October 17).
Following Downie’s death, Trudeau spoke on live TV. “Gord was my friend, but Gord was everyone’s friend,” he said. “We are less as a country without Gord Downie.”
Watch in the clip beneath:
— Rosa Hwang (@journorosa) October 18, 2017
Trudeau has also released an extended statement following Downie’s death. Read that 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.”
A statement released on The Tragically Hip’s website confirmed that Downie died on Tuesday night (October 17) while surrounded by his children and family.
“Gord knew this day was coming – his response was to spend this precious time as he always had – making music, making memories and expressing deep gratitude to his family and friends for a life well lived, often sealing it with a kiss… on the lips,” the statement said.
Downie founded The Tragically Hip – often known as The Hip – in 1984 in Kingston, Ontario with Gord Sinclair, Rob Baker, Johnny Fay and Paul Langlois.
The band – who were enormously successful in their native Canada – went on to release thirteen studio albums, with the most recent being 2016’s ‘Man Machine Poem’. They last performed in their hometown of Kingston, Ontario in August 2016.
Downie – who fulfilled lead vocal and occasional guitar duties for The Hip, while also serving as the band’s chief lyricist – also released four solo albums, starting with 2001’s ‘Coke Machine Glow’.
His final solo album, ‘Introduce Yourself’, was set to be released on October 27.
Away from music, Downie was also a vocal advocate for indigenous people, once stating: “Canada is not Canada. We are not the country we think we are.”