Community & Current Events

Margaret Trudeau on We Day Family, volunteering and what she gets out of giving back

Margaret Trudeau on volunteering and We Day Family

Community & Current Events

Margaret Trudeau on We Day Family, volunteering and what she gets out of giving back

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.



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Margaret Trudeau on We Day Family, volunteering and what she gets out of giving back