The first state visit of newly elected Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife, Sophie Grégoire, hasn't gone unnoticed in the American press. Unlike the chilly relationship between the previous Harper Administration and Obama's White House, Canada's new First Couple looks like they are well on their way toward charming the president and the rest of the country as well. A lot has been written about the young prime minister, but just who is Canada's new first lady, Sophie Grégoire? Besides being a former journalist and a yoga instructor, the mother of three is an emerging feminist icon who leverages her celebrity for good causes.
Grégoire was born in Montreal, Quebec, and was an only child. According to a 2011 interview with Erica Diamond, Grégoire had a happy childhood and "literally lived in nature ’till I was 4." Suffering from bulimia in her later teen years, she sought help after confessing her struggles to her mother. Grégoire credits a misplaced desire for control as a main factor in developing bulimia nervosa. She told Diamond: "Eating was my only way of controlling my life, or so I thought." With the support of her family — and the excellent Canadian single-payer health care system — she overcame the eating disorder and has an incredibly nuanced outlook on her struggle.
Addiction and mental illness, which is what bulimia is, can be both a curse and a blessing — it brought me a higher sense of awareness that I never would have experienced had I not suffered. It taught me about resilience and emotional maturity. I had to let go of control, in order to gain it back. How ironic.
Grégoire and Trudeau knew each other as children in Montreal but met again as adults and married in 2005. They have three children together: Xavier, Ella-Grace, and Hadrien.
After working as a news ticker writer, Grégoire landed a job at eTalk on CTV, an entertainment news program where she worked until 2010. She decided to stay at home and be a full-time mother, which, according to an interview with Laura Stone of GlobalNews.ca, was "a decision that I had the luck and luxury, in a way, to be able to make." Grégoire has since branched out to become a professional yoga instructor and uses what she has learned from her practice to advocate on behalf of women. In an exclusive editorial interview with MediaPlanet.com, she stressed that healthy lifestyles aren't just good for individuals: "Women should encourage each other and inspire each other to take charge of their bodies and minds, and to start moving! Not only for their personal health, but for their kids’ health and societal health as a whole."
Our neighbors to the north definitely got two young, inspiring leaders for the price of one. Grégoire is bound to have a great time talking shop with Michelle Obama at tonight's official state dinner over a nice plate of poutine; from working to end gender discrimination, to keeping active and eating well, the two feminist first ladies share a lot in common.