Vancouver Sun – Sophie Trudeau becomes ambassador for WE Well-being

Kevin Griffin

November 24, 2018

Sophie Grégoire Trudeau hopes that her own experience as someone who struggled with an eating disorder will help her connect with people suffering from similar traumas across the country.

Grégoire Trudeau announced Thursday at WE Day in Vancouver that she is an ambassador and ally for WE Well-being, a new prevention-based initiative to promote positive mental well-being.

She said being an ambassador and ally on mental health fits in with her background of working with youth and self-esteem for more than 20 years.

When she first talked publicly about living with bulimia last year, people questioned why she wanted to be so honest about her personal experience as a teenager and young adult.

The wife of the prime minister said she felt compelled to speak out when she saw so many people around her suffering.

“If I have a voice, then what’s the purpose if I’m not doing something that matters?” she said.

“I felt that deeply inside. The moment I came out with the story, yes, it was intense, but it changed something inside of me. I think when you do share your story, you take your first steps to healing. And who doesn’t want to heal? And just be happier?”

Grégoire Trudeau said she’s interested in working in prevention with WE Well-being. According to statistics from the WE organization, 70 per cent of mental health problems originate in childhood or adolescence.

“What is repressed needs to be expressed,” she told Postmedia News shortly after speaking to an estimated 20,000 students at Rogers Arena on WE Day.

“The earlier we talk about this to kids, the more we will work in prevention. To be working in prevention is working at the source of the problem — that’s what I’m interested in. We need to help human beings to express what is stuck inside them so we can heal together.”

Grégoire Trudeau said while boys need to be encouraged to express their emotions, both boys and girls can connect to each other by telling authentic stories about their trauma.

“For me in my life, when I’ve heard people tell their story, I’ve felt like, ‘Okay, I’m not the only one.’ Trauma is real. Trauma is there. We have to take it seriously,” she said.

“We have to heal it with expertise but every individual is different.”

WE Well-being launched in September in a pilot project with educators in Grades four to six in 150 schools across the country. It is planned to be expanded to include students and people in K-12, colleges and universities, and workplaces.

Among the thousands attending WE Day were students from William A. Fraser Middle School in Abbotsford.

Trinity Carlson, 12, earned her way to WE Day by working to remove magazines in her school such as Teen Vogue that have images of bodies that make people feel uncomfortable. They were replaced with magazines on cooking and crocheting that didn’t focus on presenting idealized images of bodies.

“We want everyone to feel comfortable with their own bodies,” she said.

The 10th anniversary WE Day in Vancouver started at 9 a.m. and continued to 2:45 p.m. It featured a roster of entertainers and speakers ranging from Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart and former National Football League player Esera Tuaolo to Margaret Trudeau, Grégoire Trudeau’s mother-in-law and a mental health advocate, and Craig and Marc Kielburger, co-founders of WE.

WE describes itself as a family of organizations that includes WE Charity, WE Schools and We Villages. WE Day Vancouver was the last of several WE Day celebrations across the country in 2018. Next year, WE Day events are scheduled for Montreal and in the United Kingdom, U.S. and Trinidad and Tobago.