Trudeau, who shared her experience with volunteering and advocacy at We Day Family on October 19, 2016, says volunteer work has been “the most consistently good part of [her] life.”
A lifelong volunteer who has also made mental health advocacy her career, Margaret Trudeau is something of an expert on the value of service. (And we're sure her experience as the former wife of one prime minister and the mother of another doesn't hurt!) "You have to be considerate and giving, you have to be mindful about how you live your own life, how much you're part of the problem and how much you're part of the solution. Certainly this is what Pierre and I tried to teach the children," she says, when asked about the importance of giving back.
Of course one of those children is doing his part to change the world in a fairly obvious way, but Trudeau feels strongly that anyone—everyone, really—should do their part. "Justin is in a position where he can make a huge difference, but we can all make a difference," she says. "I think it's one of the most important things we can teach young people, to learn to think beyond their own small worlds and to see themselves as part of the big picture."
Trudeau, joined Canadian Living as a featured speaker at We Day Family in Toronto on October 19, 2016, alongside other celebs like Nelly Furtado, Paula Abdul and Mia Farrow, chatted with us about the importance of volunteering, overcoming discouragement and what it's like to see her son lead a country.
On having compassion…
"I think being a compassionate person will not only make you a very happy and fulfilled person, but look at the good you'll do. Compassion is trying to alleviate suffering in others, trying to help others get up when they're down."
On what she gets out of giving back…
"I started my serious volunteering when I began working with Water Can [now Water Aid Canada]. It was just a small NGO, but it answered my particular need. I was traveling around the world with my husband at the time, Pierre Trudeau, and I saw the suffering that not being able to access clean water caused, so I got involved. I've been with them for 25 years and it's been the most consistently good part of my life. I've had a rock and roll life to say the least, and I've always found that, in my worst times, if I could just get up the energy to get out there and do something for someone else, I would get out of my low place. It feeds you, it fuels you; I think being a volunteer is part of being a complete person."
On volunteering as a family…
"I grew up with a mom who was very committed to volunteering and we all did what we could in our community—that's what you did for fun! It's so important for children and their families, for everyone. Volunteering shows that you have respect and consideration for fellow members of your community, that you want to do your part."
On the potential of Canada's youth…
"What I've seen is, when we work together we get things done. When we're buoys on our own, everyone turns away. For us [at Water Aid Canada], like all NGOs, it's all about the youth. Young people: considering taking a couple of years before you make your career choice and give it to an NGO. Give your enthusiasm and your well-trained mind to problems that actually are solvable. We can find solutions for both poverty and the looming water crisis."
On getting discouraged…
"Sorrow is a huge part of life, whether it's because of natural disasters, or war or conflict, or old, outdated systems that keep people oppressed. The consequence of being a compassionate person is that you are going to hurt—because you don't want to see children go hungry, you don't want to see girls struggling against all odds to learn, just to learn! You want to make a difference. But my hope is so huge and my faith is so strong that together we can change things."
On watching Justin lead Canada…
"People keep saying to me, and they have since Election Day, 'You must be so proud.' You can't even imagine how proud I am. I must say at the beginning, it was difficult for me to see that chryon underneath the news, "Prime Minister Justin Trudeau"—it seemed to me that Pierre should be there! But you get used to it. And it certainly wasn't a surprise to me. None of Justin's path has been a surprise to me; it was laid out for him, I think, and he followed it with joy. Justin has all the kindness of a compassionate person and all the strength of a leader. And I don't take all the credit for it; my goodness, he had a wonderful father."
Find out how you can attend We Day Family and help make a difference here.
The film Collateral Beauty explores the deep bond between friends. Why not celebrate it with your best friend? Enter for a chance to win a trip to the luxurious Fairmont Le Château Frontenac in Quebec City. Click here to enter.
There is one (1) prize (“Prize”) to be won. The Prize will include the following:
One (1) round trip airfare, based on economy class, for two (2) adults from a Canadian gateway to Quebec City
Two (2) night stay in a single standard room at the Fairmont Château Frontenac in Quebec City
Photography by Sian Richards
Whether your holiday style is modern, romantic or more on the traditional side, we've got a new take on Christmas-tree decorating just for you.
A fabulous floral tree sets the scene for a pastel Christmas. Simply place several large faux blooms in shades of the same colour throughout the branches. The best part? The flowers can be popped into a vase when the tree comes down!
High Park seven-foot lifelike pine tree, canadiantire.ca. Faux flowers, michaels.com. Blåregn throw, ikea.ca. Forever Frenched art print, annawithloveshop.com. Cushion, tonicliving.com. Wispy Pink 2005-70 paint (on wall), benjaminmoore.com.
Adorn your tree with your favourite family memories. Flip through photo albums together (or scroll through images on your phone) to make choosing pictures part of the fun. Scan the images, print them in black and white on sturdy matte paper, then cut them out, leaving a white edge. Next, perforate each one with a hole punch, and use twine to make a loop through the opening to hang on a branch. It's sure to be a conversation starter!
The giving tree
Wrap your tree in mini gifts. Vary the size of the packages for visual interest, but keep the look unified by sticking to a simple colour scheme; in this case, we were inspired to create a traditional red-and-white palette. Once wrapped, presents were tied to branches using coordinating ribbon and twine.
High Park seven-foot lifelike pine tree, canadiantire.ca. Marcel sofa, Woodford coffee table and Hugo rug, urbanbarn.com. Cushions, tonicliving.com. Essex mantel, hearthmanor.com. Winter Retreat wall art, minted.com. Simply White OC-117 paint (on wall), benjaminmoore.com.
Our ultimate Christmas dinner guide
St. Andrews-by-the-Sea, New Brunswick Credits: Illustration by Jeannie Phan
What to see, do and eat in St. Andrews and the surrounding area.
1. Off Kilter Bike Tour. Take in breathtaking ocean views, learn the town's history and get some exercise as you bike to local attractions–all while wearing a custom cycling kilt. Owner Kurt Gumushel's father, a tailor, moved to St. Andrews from Turkey in the 1960s and became known for the beautiful kilts he made. He started a new trend when he made kilts for local mountain bikers a few years ago–something tourists can experience during one of Kurt's bike tours.
2. Sunbury Shores Art and Nature Centre. Art and nature are two important themes in St. Andrews and they come together in this renovated workshop/exhibition space, featuring galleries, studios for painting, printmaking, jewellery making and gorgeous view of the Bay of Fundy. Sign up for a workshop or simply tour The Water Street Gallery, which features rotating exhibitions from local artists.
3. Symbiosis Fine Art. Artist and entrepreneur Matt Watkins opened his gallery/shop four years ago and features pottery, painting, jewellery and photography created by himself and other local artists. Watkins specializes in custom jewellery (most of the jewellery in the shop is made in-house), painting, silversmithing and sculpture. (He also teaches workshops in these areas at Sunbury Shores.) Symbiosis is just one of the many beautiful boutiques along the main strip that features one-of-a-kind artwork, jewellery, gifts and more.
4. Oven Head Salmon Smokers. Debra and Joseph Thorne have owned and operated their smoked salmon business for 29 years. Specializing in smoked salmon, smoked salmon pate and smoked salmon jerky, they supply their cold-smoked salmon products to Sobeys, catering companies and local restaurants, including The Algonquin Resort. And they ship anywhere in Canada and the U.S., so if you can't make it to their shop (or if you love what you tried there), you can get it delivered straight to your front door.
5. Ossie’s Lunch. Established in 1957, this retro roadside stop offers an extensive menu featuring all the local delicacies, including fried oyster sandwiches, clams and chips and lobster rolls. Can’t choose just one? Go for the seafood platter and taste a little bit of everything.
6. New River Beach. Dip your toes in the Bay of Fundy with a stop at the scenic New River Beach Provincial Park. Boasting sandy beaches, cliffside hiking trails and tidal pools, this is a must if you're traveling during the spring or summer.