Kingston remembers Gord Downie one year after his death

A year after The Tragically Hip's Gord Downie passed, Bill Wylechka looks back on what the icon meant for Canada and his hometown Kingston.

Oct. 17 marked the one-year anniversary of Gord Downie’s death, when he succumbed to an aggressive form of brain cancer.


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In Gord We Trust: Canadians pay tribute to Gord Downie on the 1-year anniversary of his death

A year after his death, many still mourn his passing, especially those in his hometown Kingston.

Downie was born in Amherstview, Ont., but was raised in Kingston and formed The Tragically Hip with bandmates Rob Baker, Johnny Fay, Davis Manning and Gord Sinclair in 1983.

Many, of course, remember him for his influential and quintessentially Canadian music, but Downie was also well-known for his commitment to charities and activism.

Although the band rose to national acclaim, they never forgot their hometown, often donating time and money to local issues.

“I think of the fundraising concerts that they put on to raise money for all sorts of different causes. That to me is so inspiring as the mayor — that’s why I have only the highest respect for these guys,” said Mayor Bryan Paterson about The Tragically Hip.

Downie was a passionate campaigner for brain cancer research and environmental issues, but he also fought passionately for the rights of Indigenous peoples in Canada.

The Tragically Hip frontman famously called out Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the band’s final show in Kingston, asking the prime minister to make sure to work on Canada’s relationship with First Nation people.

WATCH: ‘We’re in good hands, folks’: Gord Downie thanks PM Trudeau for attending final show

“Well, you know, Prime Minister Trudeau’s got me, his work with First Nations. He’s got everybody. He’s going to take us where we need to go,” Downie said on stage in Kingston in August 2016.

Downie went on to establish with his brother Mike, The Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack Fund, a charity dedicated to bringing about reconciliation.

The Tragically Hip’s Rob Baker said that Gord had a special relationship with Canada, one that wouldn’t be soon forgotten.

“We all loved Gord. He belonged to all of us at a certain point. You know the country kind of embraced him. He absorbed the country and the country sort of absorbed him,” said Baker. “Now he’s gone back to his family and they’ve reclaimed him.”

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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