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Pierre Elliott Trudeau:

School where Justin taught holds ceremony
From coast to coast, former PM holds the people in his thrall one last time

The Globe and Mail
Wednesday, October 4, 2000

VANCOUVER -- In Vancouver, several thousand kilometres away from the funeral of his father, Justin Trudeau was in the minds of students, teachers and administrators at the modest private school where he teaches.

The Canadian flag at West Point Grey Academy was at half-mast, and students placed red roses around the flag pole to mourn the death of their teacher's father.

The students are now wondering how to speak to Justin, known to them not as the son of a prime minister, but simply as "Mr. Trudeau."

"I just want to go and give [Justin] a big hug," said Andrea Jukes, a Grade 10 student.

Justin, who has been at the school for a year now, was Andrea's drama teacher. He always encouraged his students to go on stage, at times carrying them on, she recalled.

Justin hasn't been teaching at the school this year. He requested a leave of absence at the beginning of the year to spend time with his family. His brother Michel died in November, 1998.

Yesterday, he mourned another loss, the death of his father.

In a quiet morning ceremony the students of West Point Grey stood solemnly outside the school to remember Mr. Trudeau and his family. The tributes were spoken in Mandarin, Japanese, Spanish, French and English.

"We are your extended family and today we share in your sorrow," headmaster Clive Austin said.

After the half-hour ceremony, Mr. Austin recalled Justin's interview for a teaching position at the school. He was highly recommended by another teacher in December, 1998, for an opening.

"He had a sparkle in his eye," Mr. Austin said, adding that he hired him soon afterward to teach French.

"Pierre Trudeau had such a wonderful feeling for youth of this country, and I think it's rubbed off on Justin," he said.

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