Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a brief but poignant stop in Cape Breton Monday to attend the funeral of Rita Butts, the mother of his closest adviser, Gerald Butts.
The prime minister's plane landed in the Douglas McCurdy Airport in Sydney Monday morning and a motorcade took Trudeau to Immaculate Conception Church in Bridgeport, a small Glace Bay neighbourhood.
Gerald Butts and Trudueau met in university and remained close friends. Butts is now Trudeau's principal secretary.
After the funeral mass, Trudeau embraced family members.
'Trudeau must respect him an awful lot'
"We were proud that he [Trudeau] would come and spend some time with us today; it was very touching," said Butts's older brother, Joseph Butts.
Diane and Tom Hickey, who attended the funeral, said they were impressed that Trudeau came for his friend, and by the kindness he showed.
"There was a lady who had a walker and she was coming down from communion and he [Trudeau] got up and walked her down the aisle," said Diane Hickey.
"Shows what kind of a man Gerald is too, though," said Tom Hickey, "that he would show up and be here for him. Trudeau must respect him an awful lot."
'It's more than politics'
Joseph Butts says although Trudeau is the prime minister, today it wasn't about that.
"It's more than politics. It's friendship, it's trust, it's just family, which is very important to both of them," he said.
Rita Butts was a mother of five children and had a career as a registered nurse in Glace Bay.
Trudeau did not speak at her funeral nor to the media. He briefly attended a reception after the mass, then left in his motorcade to head back to the airport.
And yes, I'm back to work. It's how we deal. #CapeBreton— @gmbutts