People and Places

Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau, former PM Joe Clark, help mark Martin Luther King Day in Ottawa

On a day celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream, Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau and many of Ottawa’s religious and cultural leaders offered a glimpse into their dreams for Canada.

The prime minister’s wife was the guest speaker at the 12th-annual celebration of Martin Luther King Day at City Hall, which also drew religious leaders from across the city. Led by Rev. Dr. Anthony Bailey of Parkdale United Church, the event also saw former prime minister Joe Clark honoured with the DreamKEEPERS Life Achievement Award.

Fittingly, for an event dedicated to one of history’s greatest orators, there was no shortage of stirring speeches or moving quotes.

Here is a list of the best:

Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau

On civil rights, human rights, and the push for equality:

“Every little step that people take with good intention has an impact on another human being.”

Sophie GréŽgoire-Trudeau poses for a photo at the 12th Annual DreamKeepers Celebration of Martin Luther King Day. Photo by Mike Carroccetto, Ottawa Magazine.
Sophie GréŽgoire-Trudeau poses for a photo at the 12th Annual DreamKeepers Celebration of Martin Luther King Day. Photo by Mike Carroccetto, Ottawa Magazine.

After discussing the major struggles of our time, including the gap between rich and poor, human trafficking, and the ongoing level of violence against women:

“Our intolerance towards injustice, our intolerance towards violence, has also risen. We have become more conscious of what is happening around us and around the world … The goodness in humans is rising. We are fighting these (negative) forces … we wouldn’t be here today if goodness wasn’t winning. Goodness does prevail.”

On humanity’s neglect of Mother Nature:

“When we disrespect the mother womb there is a huge price to pay and we all pay for it.”

On seeing more Canadians getting involved, and feeling that they matter:

“The movement for peace and the movement for justice starts from within… (we must) radiate peace and radiate love.”

On raising children:

“We are raising our kids and we are in position of power where we can influence the heart and little souls of angels, really, who come into this world being perfect — what an honour it is for us to be in that position. What an honour it is for me — and who am I really? — as a mother and woman … to be in service to this cause.”

On Canadian diversity — after telling a story about playing in the falling snow this past weekend with her children, and answering their questions about every single snowflake being different:

“We are living in one big snowfall — especially in Canada.”

Rev. Dr. Anthony Bailey of Parkdale United Church:

After Trudeau ended her speech by singing an original song written for her daughter:

“Prime minister eat your heart out, prime minister’s wife has got talent! Wow! Amen … There is a spot in our choir at church. I will give you a call.”

“There is still a need for us to keep working… we are committed to racial harmony … And a country that respects the diversity and wondrous, invaluable worth of each and every human being.”

Rev. Anthony Bailey shares a laugh with Sophie GrŽégoire-Trudeau. Photo by Mike Carroccetto, Ottawa Magazine.
Rev. Anthony Bailey shares a laugh with Sophie GrŽégoire-Trudeau. Photo by Mike Carroccetto, Ottawa Magazine.

After discussing recent racist threats against his own church, and the re-opening of a vandalized Peterborough mosque visited by Prime Minister Trudeau:

“We have a long way to go and we are committed to the long dream.”

After DreamKEEPERS award recipient Desire Kilolwa choked up. His family was scarred in war-ravaged Congo, but he opted to work the conflict’s frontlines to help the victims of sexual violence:

“Sometimes expressions of silence and tears speak louder than words.”

Former prime minister Joe Clark:

As part of a humorous, but glowing tribute to Grégoire-Trudeau:

“There are few positions in Canadian public life (harder) than (being) the spouse of a national leader — not the least the spouse of a prime minister. It is an extraordinarily challenging role. It is challenging from the beginning. People look at you and say, ‘there is a pretty face’ … When the country is lucky, we have spouses who are (so) much more than a pretty face.”

On Canada’s changing face:

“Increasingly we are a country where visible minorities are becoming the majority.”

Joe Clark speaks at the 12th Annual DreamKeepers Celebration of Martin Luther King Day at Ottawa city hall, Monday, January 18, 2016. Sophie GrŽgoire-Trudeau was a key-note speaker, and Clark received a DreamKeepers Life Achievement Award. Mike Carroccetto / Ottawa Magazine
“I suspect we are on the cusp of another historic change when it comes to our status and respect for aboriginal peoples,” Joe Clark said. Photo by Mike Carroccetto, Ottawa Magazine.

On MLK and Rosa Parks:

“They turned the idea of equality from an aspiration to a growing reality in the world.”

On Canada’s recent progress on aboriginal issues:

“I suspect we are on the cusp of another historic change when it comes to our status and respect for aboriginal peoples … Where we don’t only recognize aboriginals as victims of our past, but (as) vehicles of our future.”

On our country’s spirit, and as part of his call to Canadians to embrace and celebrate refugees, and not to give into fear and prejudice created by isolated acts of terrorism:

“I believe that … Canadian generosity is a very deep instinct in this country … we are the winter half of North America. We don’t have many choices about getting along together …  the need to do things together has deeply imbued our being since we began. So many of our ancestors were refugees … (and immigrants).”

Imam Dr. Zijad Delic, South Nepean Muslim Community, who immigrated to Canada as a boy from communist Yugoslavia:

“I don’t want to be tolerated, I don’t want to be accommodated, I want to be accepted, respected and have complete equality among all of us  — (it) doesn’t matter who we are and where we came from.”

“This place should be the dream of all.”

Sarah Onyango, Black History Ottawa:

On King’s legacy and how he would have continued to advocate on issues such as climate change and aboriginal rights:

“Dr. King saw the world not as it was, but as God sees it (he would) speak of a world where we don’t refuse refugees because they have a faith other than our own … where God’s people would work towards faith and justice for all people.”