Sophie Grégoire Trudeau recognized by HIPPY Canada as positive role model

Ceremony and reception at Embassy of France draws more than 200 guests, including Sharon Johnston

Even one of our country’s most famous moms, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, acknowledges that it’s not an easy job.

“It’s tough to be a mom,” the wife of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told guests of a sponsored awards ceremony and reception hosted Tuesday by the Embassy of France in support of HIPPY Canada. It’s an organization that has nothing to do with long hair and beads and everything to do with helping moms prepare young children for kindergarten.

“I feel a little bit guilty that I have a fridge magnet on my fridge that says, ‘Who are these kids and why are they calling me mom?’” Grégoire Trudeau, who has three little ones under 10, joked.

HIPPY Canada
Sophie Grégoire Trudeau was honoured with a Because Mothers Matters Award by HIPPY Canada at an event hosted by the Embassy of France on Tuesday, May 16, 2017. (Photo by Caroline Phillips)

Grégoire Trudeau, along with a Syrian refugee mom from Ottawa and an aboriginal mother from Vancouver, was honoured with a 2017 Because Mothers Matter Award by Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY) Canada.

As a role model for mothers, she was recognized for helping to boost youth mental health and self-esteem. The former TV broadcaster has talked publicly about her past struggles with bulimia. She continues to raise awareness among teenaged girls (who are prone to dropping out of sports) over the importance of staying active and healthy.

Grégoire Trudeau, a certified yoga instructor, also voluntarily teaches yoga at her children’s public school.

“Every kid on this planet has a little teacher within them; their own inner wisdom,” she said during her bilingual remarks. “The pure role of a mother is to foster that little teacher in our kids so that, without us one day, they can thrive and know what to fall back on: self love, self respect, at all times, in everything that you do.”

Also present was Sharon Johnston, marking the first time the embassy has ever hosted both the prime minister’s wife and governor general’s wife together. Johnston is honorary patron for the organization, which takes a mother-to-mother approach.

“Our success as individuals and communities in this country depends on our ability to unlock the potential of all members of our society, and HIPPY is contributing by ensuring that children from low-income families are ready for kindergarten, and that their parents play a key role in preparing them,” Johnston told the room.

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From left, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau with fellow award recipient Maysaa Haj Ali, surrounded by her four children, at HIPPY Canada's Because Mothers Matter Awards, held at the Embassy of France on Tuesday, May 16, 2017. (Photo by Caroline Phillips) 
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From left, Sharon Johnston, honourary patron of HIPPY Canada, seen making a good point, no doubt, while in conversation with Catherine Clark at the Because Mothers Matter Awards held at the Embassy of France on Tuesday, May 16, 2017. (Photo by Caroline Phillips)

On hand to welcome guests were the hosts, French Ambassador Nicolas Chapuis and his wife, Sylvie. The embassy, one of the most impressive in the city, is located along the Ottawa River on Sussex Drive.

The cause has garnered considerable support from the diplomatic community, which generously donated embassy wine tastings and dinners to the silent auction.

The head of the HIPPY Canada board is Maureen Boyd, director of the Initiative for Parliamentary and Diplomatic Engagement at Carleton University.

HIPPY Canada
Maureen Boyd, chair of HIPPY Ottawa, at its Because Mothers Matter Awards ceremony and reception held at the Embassy of France on Tuesday, May 16, 2017. (Photo by Caroline Phillips)

HIPPY trains home visitors to work with parents, who are overwhelmingly moms and often new Canadians, refugees or aboriginal. Participating moms commit to spending 15 minutes a day over a 30-week stretch of curriculum, with their children, so that they're ready and confident to start school. Locally, the organization has served 490 families and 614 children since 2008.

Guests heard how the program has helped Syrian refugee and award recipient Maysaa Haj Ali, who arrived in Ottawa a little more than a year ago with her husband and four children. The mother, who’s been taking language and computer classes and volunteering at her local community centre, told the room in broken English how her children feel safe in Ottawa.

- caroline@obj.ca