Navigating through early adulthood is hard enough without having your every move scrutinized by the press. Now, imagine being one of the most famous people in Canada by the age of 22, while silently struggling with a mental illness that has complete control over your emotions. This is how Margaret Trudeau lived for 30 years of her life. As the wife of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau and the mother of our current prime minister Justin Trudeau, Margaret has been in the limelight for the past 50 years. She first opened up about her battle with bipolar disorder in 2006, an illness that affects her emotions and her rational thinking. Margret Trudeau’s memoir Changing My Mind sheds light on this illness, and it allows readers to get a glimpse into the life of one of Canada’s most influential women. Margaret’s experiences illustrated in her memoir show how Canada is a nation built upon compassion and self-actualization, one where we can learn from our mistakes without the fear of permanently damaging our reputation.
From dancing and singing on tabletops at formal events, to leaving mid-interview on live television, every decision Margaret had made was filtered through an ill mind. Margaret states in her memoir that often, “the Canadian public opened their newspapers to a feast of scandalous stories about the disgraceful antics of Pierre Trudeau’s mad, exhibitionist wife.” She was terrified of losing her family and tarnishing her reputation. But she was also terrified of the unknown illness that was compelling her to make decisions on a whim. Bipolar disorder is life consuming, but Margaret lived though the damage it did to her, and she emerged victorious from the battle. She was diagnosed in early 2006, and she made the parlous decision to inform the public just a couple months later. Luckily, she was met mostly with praises and support from her fellow Canadians, which goes to show that we as a nation value compassion.
Margaret Trudeau’s most significant contribution to Canadian identity is her openness about her struggle with mental illness. Bipolar disorder was not classified as it’s own mental illness until 1980, and even after that it was not widely talked about until closer to the 2000’s. Despite the fact that the illness was relatively unknown, once Margaret was able to explain that her decisions were not made while she was in a lucid mind, her past behaviour was excused. She worked hard to earn back the trust of the people of Canada. The fact that she was able to apologize for her actions shows how resilient she is, and the fact that Canada as a nation accepted her apology shows how open minded we are, and how we value honesty and respect.
After reading this memoir, I was amazed at how Margaret was able to overcome her struggles with bipolar disorder, and how despite facing seemingly insurmountable obstacles, she continued to fight. Now that she is receiving treatment for her illness and is able to think clearly, she has been a consistent supporter of the Canadian Mental Health Association. She is striving to educate others about mental illness in the hopes that no one else has to suffer in silence the way she did. She is an extremely inspiring Canadian who we should all look up to for the reasons I’ve highlighted today, along with many more that are illustrated in her memoir. Margaret Trudeau exemplifies Canada’s core values and beliefs such as self-actualization and honesty, and I believe her legacy will be one of resilience and strength. She worked hard to change her mindset, which led her to help change the way in which Canada perceives mental health today. What do you want to change?
Ciao! It’s so hard to believe that this will be my last blog post before in-depth night! I have learned so much in the past four months, and I cannot wait to be able to present everything!
The month of April was… chaotic, to say the least. Between adventure trips, dance competitions, girl guide camps, and coming down with strep throat, I have had very little free time. That being said, I managed to meet up with my mentor twice. I have found that the more I progress into this course and this new language, the more I value my time with my mentor. Last year, I needed less meetings with my mentor as the time went by, as once I learned how to play the basic chords on the guitar, the rest was just practice. However, with Italian, I am continuously learning new information, and my mentor has been such an incredible person to rely on for good feedback. During our first meeting, we focused on talking about my pronunciation. I have mentioned in previous posts that I struggle with the accents on letters, as they make different sounds in French, which I have been fluent in since the age of 8. My overall pronunciation is good, though my mentor seems to think that I still sound too French when I speak. We worked on pronouncing individual letters, as well as sounds, words, and sentences. I have memorized a list of rules for pronunciation, and I am working hard to apply them to the language.
During our second meeting, I was unfortunately still a bit sick, and I did not have much of a voice. Instead of working on pronunciation, or speaking much in general, my mentor taught me some very helpful tricks for writing in Italian. While my speaking is improving every week, I have not worked much on spelling. My mentor asked me to spell certain common words, and she gave me some tips on how to know what letters to use based on short vs long sounds, harsh bs soft consonants, and the emphasis in the word. I am more of a visual learner than an auditory learner, so I have been taking lots of notes. But during this meeting, I was able to do more than just copy a word off of a screen; I was able to hear a word, or a sentence, and piece together the sounds to spell it out. I am really proud of this, and I would consider it my biggest accomplishment so far!
In Edward de Bono’s How to Have a Beautiful Mind, de Bono talks about concepts and how they can help to clarify facts. One of the biggest concepts I talked about with my mentor was emphasis. In Italian, the emphasis in the word makes a huge difference on the meaning. If you emphasize the wrong syllable, you could accidentally be saying kingdom instead of spider, or mile instead of wife! Emphasis is used to clarify words and meanings, but it is a concept that is hard to grasp. There are rules you can follow, but there are many, many exceptions. My mentor did an amazing job of explaining the role of emphasis in the Italian language, and how if used properly, it can greatly improve my pronunciation.
In a later chapter, Edward de Bono talks about alternatives. While meeting with my mentor, we had to come up with an alternative plan for our second meeting as I had lost my voice. We had originally planned on working more on my emphasis and accents, but we emailed back and forth to come up with a better plan. We ended up deciding on writing, which was so beneficial to me, and I’m really happy we were able to communicate effectively enough to set that up. We talked about some other potential solutions such as reading an Italian children’s book or watching an Italian cartoon, but eventually we decided that writing would be the best idea as I have not had as much practice with it. I was very grateful that my mentor was willing to help me with this on such short notice.
For my learning centre this year, I am planning on having a tri-fold display board with some greetings and expressions written on it in Italian, with the pronunciation written underneath. I want to be able to teach a couple of words to everyone who comes to my station. I am going to be focusing on common sentences, greetings, and expressions for in-depth night, as I want to pass along my knowledge to others! I will personally be focusing on my pronunciation, as that is what I will be helping others with. I am also hoping to include some Italian books, music, maps, and food samples for everyone to enjoy! I hope everyone will gain a better sense of the Italian culture, and I hope that I will persuade them to continue learning this beautiful language!
I am extremely excited for in-depth night this year, and to continue to develop my Italian! As this is the last blog post until in-depth night, addio!
1. “Pierre invoked the War Measures Act and ordered mass raids and arrests but said that he would not deal with terrorists.”
I had heard about this act before, but I had no idea Pierre Trudeau was the one who implemented it. The fact that such a huge decision had to be made so quickly and under such stressful circumstances is both terrifying and inspiring; Pierre had to act fast under immense pressure in order to help as many citizens as possible. On a much smaller scale, this is similar to my life, as I have had to make tough decisions in the past in a small time frame. A recent example of that would be on the kayaking trip this past weekend, when we were facing some very rough weather conditions and had to work together to quickly come up with a solution.
Pierre decided against bargaining with the terrorists, as he believed that the loss of two people would be better than the release of dozens of political prisoners. This shows that he believed in protecting innocent civilians rather than saving two politicians. Now, we have similar values, though they are not exposed as directly.
2. “Husbands were not allowed to be present at the birth in those days at the Ottawa Civic Hospital.”
This passage really stood out to me because my dad’s family grew up in Ontario, and for the birth of one of his brothers, neither him nor his father were allowed into the hospital room. I thought it was uncommon for that to take place, but after reading about it in this novel, I realized just how different things were back then.
This shows that in the past, specifically in the 1970’s, women and men were still treated very differently. Now, it is commonplace for men to be present at the birth of their child, which signifies an advancement in both women’s rights and gender equality.
3. “He picked me when I was nineteen (…) Pierre also thought that because I was so young, he could mould me into the kind of person he wanted me to be.”
This passage explains how Pierre Trudeau ‘picked’ Margaret Trudeau when she was very young, not based on how well they connected, but based on her age and her physical attributes. This reminds me of how in Romeo and Juliet, their relationship was based on physical attraction, and it was intense very quickly before coming to a violent end. Pierre and Margaret’s relationship ended similarly.
This shows that, like the previous passage, women’s rights were far less developed just 60 years ago. Divorces were much less common, but that means that women had to put up with a lot from their husbands. This also shows that women did not always have a choice when it came to relationships. Today,
4. “For the first time in my life, I was using my name and my curious status as a celebrity to some important end.”
This passage talks about how Margaret went to Africa three times to help to build water wells in communities there. This resonated with me as I have actually applied to go to Kenya to do the same thing next summer. I am very interested in helping the world in whatever ways I can, just like Margaret, who recognized that her celebrity status could influence people and decided to use it for the benefit of others.
Margaret began her trips to Africa in 2002, when they were not as common as they are today. She inspired people across the country to help others, something which has greatly influenced Canada’s identity today.
5. “I wanted to warn women that in the world of patients, women who are mentally ill lie at the very bottom of the pile, frequently not treated for their physical ailments.”
This passage was interesting to me because I am interested in health care, and mental illness is a growing sector of that. I am aware of the unjust imbalance between how physical illness is perceived and how mental illness is perceived, and I believe that Margaret should be praised for helping to spread the message.
This statement was written within the last ten years, so not much has changed since that time. However, within Canada and throughout the whole world, mental illness is continuously being talked about more and more. There is much more awareness now than there was even two years ago.
Ciao! The last couple weeks of in-depth have been coming along nicely. I met up with my mentor twice, once during spring break and once after. It was hard to coordinate our schedules over spring break, as I was working full time the first week and in Ottawa the second, and her schedule was busy as well. We ended up having a two hour meeting on the Friday before I left, instead of our usual hour long meetings. It was very productive, and I ended up learning a lot of new grammar rules. We talked about the different regions of Italy and how they differ from each other; for example, each region of Italy has its own spin on Italian food, which I found very interesting. Stereotypical Italian foods such as pizza and spaghetti come from central Italy, whereas up north, they eat mostly fish, potatoes and rice. My mentor told me that she personally prefers the food down south, where tomatoes, garlic, and olives are included in most dishes.
As for the Italian language, I am right on schedule for my Italian course. I had some time while I was in Ottawa over spring break to work on the course, which was nice. I learned how to say the days of the weeks, months of the year, and nationalities. I am doing really well overall in the course, but I have been struggling with accents on the letters. The accents mean different things in Italian and in French, and since I am learning both languages, it is hard to remember which one means what. I have been working on memorizing all of the consonant sounds, and all the vowel sounds with and without accents. I am having a lot of fun in this course, and I am super excited for in-depth night!
In Edward de Bono’s How to Have a Beautiful Mind, de Bono talks about a different way of thinking called the six hats. Different coloured hats represent different ways to think about a situation. My mentor and I had a lengthy conversation about how I am doing in my Italian course currently, and what I can work on to improve. I recorded the conversation, and I highlighted the different hats used. Below is a link to the conversation I had with my mentor.
I have been working very hard on my in-depth project, and it is paying off well. I am very excited to continue developing my skills, and I am even more excited to present my learning at in-depth night!
Ciao! Weeks six and seven of in-depth have been going along beautifully, and I am very happy with my progress so far! I was able to meet up with my mentor, and we had a very lengthy but informative discussion about the Italian culture. I am visiting Italy for three weeks this summer, so I am very interested in the history and the traditions there. I completed a short assignment on the formation of Italy, the culture, and some of the holidays there as a part of the online course I am enrolled in, but I am always open and enthusiastic about learning more. My mentor told me about her experience with Italian culture, and about the first time she visited Italy. We had a very intriguing discussion comparing American/ Canadian cultures and societal norms to Italian cultures and societal norms. I love being able to immerse myself in new cultures and traditions, so learning as much as I can about Italy before my trip is very important to me.
As far as the learning of Italian is going, I am a little bit behind on my online course. I will be able to catch up fairly easily, but I have had a lot of homework and extracurriculars recently that have made it hard. On top of that, I am currently in a French class at school, so I need to learn to better distinguish between Italian grammar rules and French grammar rules. All that being said, I am loving the Italian class I am enrolled in, and learning this new language has been such as incredible experience so far.
In Edward de Bono’s How to Have a Beautiful Mind, de Bono lists listening and asking questions as two important qualities of a good interaction. This week, I had the opportunity to do a lot of both while meeting with my mentor. As opposed to our last couple of meetings where we have gotten together and gone over the syllabus and my homework, this meeting involved a lot of me asking questions about anything I wanted to know. I was very focused on learning about the Italian culture, and I had to listen intently and take notes while she was answering my questions so that I could look into them on my own in the future. For example, I asked my mentor about the most significant Italian holidays every year, and she explained what Saint days are. Every day of the year has a Catholic Saint associated to it, and every city in Italy has a Patron Saint. This means that, if you are in the town of Pisa on June 17th, there will be a big feast to celebrate Saint Ranieri. I was very confused about this, until I asked a question about the most well know saint days. There is on coming up in just a couple of days; on March 17th many people around the world celebrate St Patrick’s Day. Another common one that just passed about a month ago is St Valentine’s Day. I had to ask a lot of follow up question to fully grasp the concept, such as which Saints have a day (all of them), how they decide when the day will fall (based on the Saint’s death day), and who celebrates these days (Catholic Italian citizens who live in the city where the Saint of the day was a patron). It took a lot of independent research on my part, but I finally understand more about how Saint days work. My mentor is Catholic and I am not, however she assured me that you only have to participate in the festivities if you feel comfortable, and that the feasts are not overly religious.
Throughout our meeting, I made sure to ask interesting questions that moved the conversation forwards, such as the ones I listed above. I also made sure to listen intently, as everything my mentor was saying was really cool and valuable to me. I am very excited for the next weeks of in-depth, and although I am away for a lot of spring break, I am excited to continue learning Italian with the support of my incredible mentor. Addio, ci vediamo!
I agree that Romeo and Juliet’s relationship is simply puppy love between two infatuated children. Juliet, being thirteen years old, has not had any experience with relationships in the past. Romeo, although he has experienced love before, falls in and out of it quickly. He is inexperienced with long term love and with long term relationships. Throughout Romeo and Juliet’s 48 hour relationship, all of Juliet’s actions, such as kissing Romeo, accepting his marriage proposal, and proclaiming her love for him, seem to be forced by peer pressure. This is shown when Romeo asks to kiss Juliet for the first time, and she responds “Ay, pilgrim, lips that they must use in prayer” (1. 5. 102). She is saying that she doesn’t want Romeo to kiss her, but he doesn’t listen and kisses her anyways. Later, after Romeo proposes marriage, Juliet claims that “[…] my true love is grown to such excess I cannot sum up sum of half my wealth” (2. 6. 33-34). This explains why, after being pressured into a marriage by Romeo, she is suddenly head over heels in love with him. Romeo isn’t pressuring Juliet into loving him on purpose, but she is much younger and somewhat less experienced than he is, which causes her to look up to him for advice. Romeo’s actions surrounding relationships so far have all been related to superficial attraction to beautiful women, not about their personalities. This shows that he is still immature and believes that you can declare love while still in the “honeymoon phase”, which further proves that the love he feels for Juliet is nothing but puppy love and childish infatuation.
Kulich’s argument is somewhat effective, though it would have been more compelling had she written a short conclusion on why the information she provided was relevant to Romeo and Juliet’s relationship. Most of the information she provided was historically accurate, though she did state, in reference to 14 year olds being considered as adults, “This was so until very recently, in the First World War until after the Second World War […]”. Technically, plans to raise the minimum compulsory schooling age in Europe were not implemented until after the war, as there were financial struggles. This means that, until 1944, one year before the Second World War ended, compulsory schooling was set at age 14. Kulich’s wording is not very clear, which can leave ambiguity for the reader, causing them to have a biased opinion.
Ciao! During my fourth and fifth weeks of in-depth, I encountered a couple of problems with my project, mostly involving the weather. I was unable to meet up with my mentor for when we had scheduled due to the heavy snow, so we had to reschedule for two days later. This didn’t cause any major issues, but it was a bit frustrating to have to find another time slot that worked for both of us. Another problem that was a bit frustrating was that the online course I am enrolled in was not working during the snow day, which would have been the perfect time to get some more work done. However, everything was back to normal by Wednesday morning.
I am having a ton of fun learning Italian, and I am on schedule having almost completed the first unit. I have just learned many new helpful phrases, such as “come stai?” which means how are you, and “buongiorno” which means good morning. I am really enjoying learning simple sentences, as they are extremely useful in day to day life. My mentor is very helpful and supportive, and she is quick to give me feedback on my work.
In Edward de Bono’s How to Have a Beautiful Mind, two important sections are How to be Interesting and How to Respond. Over the family day long weekend, I had a dinner with my family. I talked a bit about how my Italian course is going, and I shared some of what I have learned so far. I love talking about things I am passionate about, and teaching my family, especially my younger cousin, some words in Italian was really fun. I also spoke about what I was most interested in with my mentor. I love learning new languages, but learning about different cultures is even more interesting to me. One of the assignments in my Italian course was to learn a bit about the history of Italy, and I had a lot of fun researching the geography, independence, and past rulers of Italy. I talked a bit with my mentor about the things I have learned so far that I would love to expand on, and things I haven’t learned yet but would love to touch on at some point.
While completing one of the quizzes online, I came across a question that was a bit confusing. It was asking me to translate a sentence, but there were technically multiple correct answers. I put down the answer that made the most sense to me, but I wrote it down so that I could ask my mentor about it when we met up. I ended up getting the question right, but when I asked my mentor about it, she agreed that there was some ambiguity and room for interpretation. She said that no one had ever asked about it before, but that she would make sure to mark answers int the future accordingly. I made sure to bring up the point respectfully, and I gave multiple reasons as to why my point was valid, but also to say that the question just required a bit more logical thinking. Everything worked out well, and we didn’t have any disagreements or arguments.
To conclude, I am having so, so, so much fun learning this new language, and I have made so many connections from the Italian language and culture to the French language and culture. I can’t wait to expand on my learning, and I am more excited than ever to show off my skills not only on in-depth night, but also in Italy! Ci vediamo!
Ciao! Finally, in week three of in-depth, I have secured a mentor! She is a teacher for an online Italian course, and I am enrolled in her class. I have started the course, but I am also hoping to meet up with her once a week.
Originally, we had planned to meet up over the weekend, but unfortunately she was unable to make it. Instead, we rescheduled for a Monday afternoon for our first official meeting as mentor and mentee. During the meeting, we talked a bit about ourselves and our passions, but we mostly talked about my progress so far in the course. I have completed the intro unit to the course, and am starting on the first level. Each level is designed to take about one month, so two blog posts from now, I should be done level one. I am learning really fast, I already know the alphabet, numbers one to ten, and some common phrases and words. My mentor has been extremely helpful, and she is always encouraging me to expand on my learning and to implement it in my daily life.
In Edward de Bono’s How to Have a Beautiful Mind, three important sections are How to Agree, How to Disagree, and How to Differ. During my meeting with my mentor, I tried my best to implement these three aspects into our conversation. I think I did a good job, but to be honest, we did not have many disagreements. The only thing that I brought up was the fact that each unit is supposed to take one month. I thought that that seemed a bit long, and also very even. What if I needed more time on lesson four than on lesson three? However, my mentor assured me that although the course was designed to be completed at a rate of one month per lesson, you can go about it at your own pace. I made sure to explain my point respectfully, as she has obviously been teaching the course for longer than I have been enrolled, and she is more knowledgeable in that area. After she explained how everything works, I was convinced that she was right and that I had nothing to worry about.
Some constructive criticism I received and agreed with was about the pronunciation of some of the letters in the alphabet. I’ve been learning which sounds correspond with which groupings of letters, and how to know what sound a letter is making based on the letters before and after it. I need to work on the pronunciation of the letters d and p, as I still have a very French pronunciation of the two. I listened to the feedback carefully, and I am making an effort to implement the feedback into my speech.
I am very excited for my next meeting with my mentor, and until then I will be working on my Italian course every day. My friends and my family have begun to notice how I replace certain simple words, such as hello or yes, with the Italian translations. I am having a lot of fun, and I can’t wait for in-depth! Arrivederci!