British Columbia

Justin Trudeau's former B.C. students recall their charismatic teacher

Trudeau's former students are sharing their experiences with him as a teacher, recalling a charismatic persona they say is reflected in his current leadership style.

Former students in Metro Vancouver recall an engaging teacher who loved the outdoors

Randip Janda says Justin Trudeau taught him English as a substitute teacher in 2002. (CBC News)

Justin Trudeau's former students in British Columbia are sharing their experiences with him as a teacher, recalling a charismatic persona they say is reflected in his current leadership style.

"I remember it like it was yesterday," said Randip Janda, a media consultant.

Janda said he and some of his fellow students immediately recognized the Trudeau name when he subbed in as his English teacher for one class at Killarney Secondary School back in 2002. 

Trudeau completed a Bachelor of Education at the University of British Columbia in 1998 and taught in the same province from 1999 to 2002.

"I was taken aback, and after that I was on my best behaviour that day," he said.

A yearbook photo of Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau when he was a student teacher at Pitt River Middle School in B.C. (Provided)

Trudeau taught Janda's class two years after the prime minister-designate had delivered an emotional eulogy at the funeral of his father, former Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau. 

Janda said Trudeau conveyed the same passionate communication skills in the classroom. He said he particularly recalled Trudeau reading from Wayson Choy's novel The Jade Peony during the class.

"The way he read it was not the typical way you would hear a teacher read it," said Janda. "To be fair, he did have arguably the most charismatic leader in Canadian history as a father, so I'm sure that helped."

Another yearbook photo of Justin Trudeau, this time from when he taught at West Point Grey Academy. (Provided)

The traits Trudeau displayed in Janda's class in 2002 were the same onces at play when he saw the prime minister-designate thanking people and shaking their hands at a Metro station in Montreal, he said.

"Getting people to feel at ease and open up ... that's a pretty unique trait, and I think you could pick that up even going 12, 13 years back," he said.

'He was just a cool dude'

Radio host Emilie Clarke also remembers Trudeau from when he occasionally subbed in as her French teacher at West Point Grey Academy, a private school on Vancouver's Westside where he also taught drama and physical education.

"He was super engaging. If we knew Mr. Trudeau was subbing in, we were so excited," she said. "You just couldn't not look at him."

Justin Trudeau occasionally taught Emilie Clarke French when she was a student at West Point Grey Academy. (CBC News)

Clarke agreed that his charisma helped him win the election.

"He's super engaging, and I think that's why he did so well during his campaign," she said. "He has a knack for just talking to you."

Clarke said she remembers Trudeau as a fun teacher who was "always a good time" and enjoyed the outdoors. She said his being the son of a former Prime Minister didn't have an impact in the classroom.

"To us he was just a cool dude," she said. "To our parents, they were like, 'Mr. Trudeau teaches my children.'" 

Other British Columbians took to social media to share their stories.


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