The death of Canadian music icon Rita MacNeil has prompted a deluge of condolences from Canadians, musicians and dignitaries.
MacNeil died suddenly on Tuesday at the age of 68 following complications from surgery, a notice on her website said.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper was in London, attending the funeral for former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
He called MacNeil "A great Canadian performer and icon," and said her passing is "a great loss to the cultural scene in Canada and we just want to obviously take a moment to reflect on her career as well but also to pass on all of our condolences to her friends and family."
New Democratic Party Leader Thomas Mulcair, speaking after the NDP’s weekly caucus meeting said, "I think it’s really important that all Canadians understand what’s been lost with the passing of Rita MacNeil and our thoughts and prayers are with her family."
MacNeil had a special relationship with coal miners in Nova Scotia, often performing with the Men of the Deeps — a group of working and retired coal miners from Cape Breton.
"I’ll never forget her singing with the Men of the Deep. I think for communities that have a coal mining history, that song [Working Man] struck such a poignant chord. We lost members of our community when the Westray Mine exploded. And that song resonated and provided I think a great deal of comfort and reflection for people in Stellarton and New Glasglow, Plymouth area where the Westray Coal Mine tragedy occurred," said Defence Minister Peter MacKay.
"That song, ‘I’ve been down underground and if I ever see the sun,’ I think is a worker’s anthem for people who put in long hard days for their family, for their community. They’re working to get through the day and I think that resonates with people everywhere."
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau spoke to the press following his first Liberal Caucus as leader early Wednesday.
"Her commitment, love to her country and the approach she had to hard work resonates very much and she will be deeply missed," said Trudeau.
Nova Scotia MP Megan Leslie called the Cape Breton songstress a "treasured artist and performer."
Rita will be remembered for her iconic ability to mix storytelling with music, taking audiences with her on a journey of triumphs, heartbreaks, and the struggle for justice."
Leslie celebrated MacNeil’s contribution to the women’s movement.
"She was a passionate and beautiful voice for us. Rita spoke often of family and community and of breaking down barriers between people," said Leslie.James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, said "Rita’s heartfelt songs reflected the hardships and emotions of working-class Canadians. Her warm and soulful voice will forever be part of our musical heritage."