CqWd797VYAATyYHSaturday night Canada shared a moment that will be burned into our collective history for years to come. We came together as a country to celebrate the life, talent, and most of all humanity of Gord Downie as the poet of our generation.

September seventeen
For a girl I know it’s Mother’s Day
Her son has gone alee
And that’s where he will stay
Wind on the weathervane
Tearing blue eyes sailor-mean
As Falstaff sings a sorrowful refrain
For a boy in Fiddler’s Green

The lyrics from Fiddler’s Green mourning the loss of a child feel fitting after a night where Canada was able to celebrate and mourn with someone who has done so much in his life to help paint our own identity as a nation. The Canadian humanity with which Gord Downie shared his lyrics instantly connected him to the whole nation, and simultaneously brought us all together in a way that no politician, no athlete, and no artist had done before.

Saturday night we all put aside our other plans, we stopped watching the Olympics in Rio, we gathered together, and we wept. Over and over throughout the night as we shared in the ultimate moment of human celebration for Canada’s child as we cried.

I have never experienced anything like the collective shared human emotion that I could feel on Saturday night. I shared the evening with a group of friends in our back yard, but the energy that we shared was much bigger than the friends we had with us. You could almost hear the sound of 35 million hearts breaking at the moment when Gord broke down while singing Grace, Too. The sound of 35 million souls who had joined together to celebrate together at one moment.

But more than any of the emotion of the night we heard the message from Gord about what it means to be Canadian with our unique shared humanity. He spoke of the environment, he spoke of his journey, but most of all he spoke of the importance of helping our native communities. He spoke of inclusion and humanity. He left us with a job to do.

As the world seems to spin ever faster and we see the challenges facing countries around the world we often find ourselves speeding up our own lives. More time for work, more focus on numbers, more focus on performance, only the strong survive.

But Gord’s message was a reminder of the human side of our lives that makes us uniquely Canadian. The importance of family, the importance of community, the importance of history, and the importance of all of the lives and communities in our great country.

For 3 hours on Saturday we shared a moment that was as Canadian as any moment that has ever come before it.

For the rest of our lives we should remember that message and continue on Gord’s mission.

Thank you Gord. And thank you to the rest of the boys in The Tragically Hip and everyone who made Saturday night possible. We are a better Canada for having shared that night together.

He doesn’t know a soul
There’s nowhere that he’s really been
But he won’t travel long alone
No, not in Fiddler’s Green
Balloons all filled with rain
As children’s eyes turn sleepy-mean
And Falstaff sings a sorrowful refrain
For a boy in Fiddler’s Green


About Tim Empringham, MBA
Tim Empringham is a passionate advocate for Innovation in organizations of all sizes as a mechanism to drive growth, create uncontested market space, create new customer value, and drive efficiency into the internal organization. His focus is on disruption of thinking and markets through integrative thinking, structured Innovation frameworks, and leadership development of Innovation and Change leaders within the organization.

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