Pierre Elliott Trudeau:
SARAH: Nine-year-old girl suddenly the focus of presidents and the public
By INGRID PERITZ AND TU THANH HA
The Globe and Mail
Wednesday, October 4, 2000
MONTREAL -- While dignitaries converged outside Notre Dame Basilica yesterday, for a few brief moments it was a little blond girl in a blue dress with barrettes in her hair that became the focus of the country's attention.
Nine-year-old Sarah Coyne stood quietly amid a throng of mourners just before the funeral of her father, Pierre Trudeau.
With one hand, she gripped the hand of her mother, lawyer Deborah Coyne. With the other, she clutched a single, red rose petal, sniffing it.
Walking into the church behind her half brothers, she, like any other child, put her attention into carefully trying not to step onto the cracks between the paving stones.
On the way out, she held one of the black tassels used to bind the ceremony program.
When the procession stopped to wait for the RCMP pallbearers to place the casket into the hearse, she kept time playfully by crossing and uncrossing her feet and rocking on her heels.
The funeral marked the coming-out for the progeny of one of the nation's most celebrated figures.
Protected until now, she was suddenly thrust before the eyes of thousands of her father's admirers.
Looking at turns timid and bewildered by the attention, Sarah was the only child in a group of family members and dignitaries that accompanied Justin and Sacha Trudeau in the funeral cortege to the imposing basilica.
Fidel Castro, the Cuban President, leaned over and kissed her on the head. Former U.S. president Jimmy Carter bent over and embraced her.
Although Mr. Trudeau and Ms. Coyne had shielded Sarah from the public eye, her father was devoted to her and took her on trips.
Mr. Carter said he'd met Sarah when the former prime minister brought her for a visit to Niagara Falls. Mr. Carter and his wife Rosalynn were there celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary.
The funeral also marked the first time that Sarah, born long after Mr. Trudeau left office, was welcomed as a member of his family on a grand public scale.
When the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Montreal, Jean-Claude Cardinal Turcotte, extended his condolences to Mr. Trudeau's children, he included Justin, Sacha and Sarah in the same breath.