Margaret Trudeau, the only woman in Canadian history to be both the wife of a prime minister and the mother of another is coming to the West Kootenay to speak at the Find Your Divine events being held in Castlegar and Nelson next week.
Trudeau is also well known for her work as a mental health advocate and as the author of four books including her best selling memoir Changing My Mind. Her newest book, The Time of Your Life: Choosing a Vibrant, Joyful, Future offers women advice on how to have a healthy, happy and secure future in a practical and straightforward manner. The Castlegar News recently had the privilege of speaking with her about her upcoming trip and the issues she is passionate about.
Although her son Michel was killed in avalanche in Kokanee Glacier Park in 1998, Trudeau is still looking forward to her trip to the area next week. “I have been up to Nelson many times, because I go and climb up Kokanee as often as I can in the summer,” she said. “It is where I lost my boy, but I love Nelson… It will be emotional for me, because I have spent a lot of time there being quite sad, which I am not anymore, thank goodness.”
She appreciates the simple, healthy and outdoor life we have here in the Kootenays. “Nature has an extraordinary healing power over our brains. Just going for a walk in the woods can sometimes, unknowingly, give you a sense of balance you didn’t have before,” she added.
Trudeau will be speaking about mental health, a topic she is very passionate about. “The truth with mental illness is that you can choose to stay in your state of mental illness … You can choose to get out of it as well,” she said. “When you deny you have a problem or you are blaming everyone else or your life circumstances … it may well be that you have a mental illness that you must address. Once addressed, there is correction.”
She is also looking forward to speaking to women at the events, because she feels that it is often mothers who first recognize the signs of mental illness in their children. “One out of five of our children in Canada will suffer with a mental illness,” she explained. “Many of our children will face challenges, that we as mothers must respond to. The way to do it is to be educated.”
Trudeau explained why she is so passionate about the topic of mental health. “I have been an advocate for almost ten years now. There are so few of us who are standing up and advocating for a healthy mind, healthy emotions,” she said. “I’ve been there. It is a rough truth, but I do what I do because I just about took my life, and it was prevented by an intervention from my sons.”
She also wants to share a message of hope. “I know how deep we can go. I’ve been there, I’ve lost everything. I’ve lost it all,” she said, before joyfully adding, “But I got it back.”
Part of Trudeau’s advocacy revolves around trying to remove the stigma associated with mental illness. “Maybe I am the only one who can say it out loud like this, because believe you me, there is a stigma out there and once you are wrapped in the label of someone with a mental illness, lots of doors close,” she explained. “But you have to learn how to nudge them open again and how to have trust and confidence in yourself again.”
Trudeau has recently been thrust back into the spotlight as her son Justin took on the role of Prime Minister of Canada. “It has brought way too much joy, way too much happiness, way too much pride. I have just been swept away like everyone,” she said. “When I turn on the television, there is my darling son. We are getting used to it, he and I. It is a whole new way of his being, but he has taken it on completely. It is more than just a job, it is a lifestyle. It is a commitment of huge proportions, that I only know so well, having been married to his father.”