Sophie Gregoire Trudeau introduces Jill Biden to curling during first lady's visit 24 March 2023 04:58 PM: The first lady of the United States got a sweeping introduction to Canadian sports culture in Ottawa Friday when Sophie Gregoire Trudeau took Jill Biden to the curling rink during her first trip to Ottawa.

President Joe Biden and his wife arrived in the capital Thursday evening for their first official visit to Canada since the president took office two years ago.

While the president spent most of the day close to Parliament Hill in meetings with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, their wives visited the nearby 135 year-old Rideau Curling Club.

The 20 or so curlers on the ice seemed oblivious at first as the two women greeted each other in the lounge with a warm embrace before stepping out to the chilly rink.

The shouts of the tense curling matches quieted slightly as Gregoire Trudeau greeted the players.

"You know, I love sports," Gregoire Trudeau told the players from the side of the ice.

"I love sports," Biden agreed, which earned her a chuckle from the players.

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In his speech in Parliament during his first official visit as U.S.president to Canada, Joe Biden spoke of the friendly nature of the relationship between the two countries.

An official itinerary promised that the two would get an introduction to the game, but they opted to take it in from the sidelines rather than pick up a rock or a broom themselves.

Back in the lounge, the first lady and Gregoire Trudeau joined a group of teens to talk about how sports contributes to their mental health and general sense of wellness.

They shook each high-schooler's hand before they sat down, and the first lady — a former classroom teacher — quipped that they were missing school.

"As a mental-heath advocate and as a teacher, we know that we can learn anything in school, which is extraordinary, but taking care of ourselves and knowing more about our mental and physical limits is very important," said Gregoire Trudeau.

"Sport can allow us to do that."

As the women listened to the teens, Biden pulled out a pen and notebook to take down their thoughts.

First lady Jill Biden and Sophie Gregoire Trudeau visit an art exhibit at the National Art Gallery.
First lady Jill Biden and Sophie Gregoire Trudeau visit 'Uninvited: Canadian Women Artists in the Modern Moment,' an art exhibit at the National Art Gallery in Ottawa on Friday, March 24, 2023. (Spencer Colby/The Canadian Press)

They next travelled to the National Gallery of Canada in separate vehicles as people across downtown Ottawa stopped to wave or take out their phones to capture video of the motorcade. Some people stepped out of shops to watch the 19 vehicles drive by.

As Gregoire Trudeau led Biden into the lobby of the gallery, the first lady paused to admire the glass ceilings.

"I just had to take a moment," she said, smiling as she stepped forward to greet the curators and view the exhibit.

While the trip is the first lady's first to Ottawa, Biden and Gregoire Trudeau know each other fairly well.

The pair met a few months ago at the North American Leaders Summit in Mexico, when the first lady referred to Gregoire Trudeau as a "good friend and neighbour."

President Joe Biden, accompanied by first lady Jill Biden, talks with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, accompanied by his wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau.
U.S. President Joe Biden, accompanied by first lady Jill Biden, talks with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, accompanied by his wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, before addressing Parliament on March 24, 2023 in Ottawa. (Andrew Harnik/The Associated Press)

Gregoire Trudeau also established a lasting friendship with former first lady Michelle Obama, who once referred to her as her "soulmate."

Biden and Gregoire Trudeau shared a private lunch at the gallery before joining their husbands as the president addressed Parliament.

The women were expected to end the visit by attending a gala dinner at the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum.

Several Canadian dignitaries are on the guest list, including Gov. Gen. Mary Simon and her husband, cabinet ministers and Indigenous leaders.

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