2016 did not feel like a great year, let’s be honest.
It felt like the hits just kept coming, and Facebook was littered with epithets against 2016, asking how much more we were expected to take. As it turned out, a lot.
Leonard Cohen, Prince, David Bowie, Muhammad Ali, to name just a few of the way-too-many celebrities that passed away this year. Even in 2016’s final days it took Alan Thicke, George Michael, Carrie Fisher, and, just 24 hours later, her mother Debbie Reynolds.
The most heartbreaking moment of 2016, for the majority of the world–minus the people who voted for him–was the election of Donald Trump. So many of us thought it was in the bag for Hillary, and a few of us even thought that maybe we were being punked and that Trump was just running to ensure Hillary’s victory. I mean, really—it was hard to take seriously a man who said that some rapists and drug dealers are basically good people.
But alas, no; Ashton Kutcher did not jump out of a box, so thanks again, 2016.
Thankfully, Canada went in the opposite direction of America politically, and Prime Minister Trudeau selected his most ethnically diverse and gender-equal cabinet in history, appointing the same number of men and women; though it does not cancel out Trump’s election, it does say a lot about the direction Trudeau intends to take the country that I am fairly certain does not include a wall.
Canadian hearts broke when Gord Downie of the Tragically Hip announced he had terminal brain cancer, and that the band would make its final tour in the summer. Many of us who had not been so lucky to see them live were ingratiated to the CBC who, in its wisdom recognized the needs of its country over the needs of its pocketbook, broadcast the final concert live and commercial-free.
After that, though, Downie announced his small tour in support of his album and book about Chanie Wenjack, an indigenous boy who died while fleeing the residential school he had been placed in, and thereby shone a light into a dark corner of Canadian history and forced us all as a country to come together to do the work that needs to be done to heal the people affected. So while America is going to hell in a handbasket, our love of Gord Downie unites our country.
For me, 2016 will be defined by those two events. The fear that accompanies the election of Donald Trump, and the sadness of the impending loss of one of the greatest poets and storytellers of my time.
As a country, Canada is pretty low-key; we are the student in the middle of the class who politely raises their hand when they know the answer, but never tries to hog the spotlight. In fact, I tried really hard to find some awesome and uniquely Canadian things that happened in 2016, and the top result I got was a list of things Canada had to look forward to for 2016, and three of those things are American!
Without further ado, I give you my top seven 2016 Canadian highlights!! Just as an aside, I also googled “Canadian Highs and Lows for 2016” and got results for the weather because duh…Canada.
Trump talked about us!! I mean, he called us a “long piece” and said we cost too much, but whatevs. We’re internet famous!!!
We lost our sh*t about the online 2016 Census. Not only did we lose our sh*t, we crashed the StatsCan website in our crushing joie de vivre, and #Census2016 trended worldwide on Twitter.
Two capybaras escaped in Toronto and united a nation in the hunt. Not really, but the tweets for #CapyBara were hilarious for about 5 days.
When the Mayor of Toronto took on CBS Sports. Nobody puts Baby in a corner! Or calls her “other”….
A politician’s candidacy was disallowed for eating a hamster off a hockey stick. Turns out it was poutine, but that didn’t stop him from turning it into a political sabotage conspiracy.
We came together as a country and raised $300M in aid to rebuild a town razed by wildfire. When Fort MacMurray was burning and people were evacuated by the thousands, we opened our doors and our wallets to help out those in need. Nothing made me more proud to be Canadian, except maybe when we opened our borders to 25,000 Syrian refugees. Oh yeah we did.
It was a tough year around the world. Part of the art of survival is taking in the ridiculous and allowing that to rule our heads sometimes; being able to laugh in the face of tragedy and fear is part of our strength as humans. Let’s use that strength in 2017 to combat the ugliness we fear is coming.
All the best in 2017, from all of us in Canada! (And yes, I speak for everyone, including Jim from Nova Scotia.)