WINNIPEG JETS - Canada Gets Our Long Awaited Seventh NHL Franchise … Again
Canada bleeds – and breeds – hockey. Not only is it our national sport, but of the 19 countries that currently have players in the NHL, 53.3 percent of those players come from right here in Canada. Therefore, when the Winnipeg Jets announced they’d be returning home to Winnipeg, Canadians got excited. So excited in fact, that even before the logo, jerseys or roster had been announced, 13,000 season tickets sold in just 17 minutes – creating a need for an immediate season ticket wait list ¬– and when the logo was officially released on July 26, over $200,000 in official Jets merchandise sold in just four days. After the Nordiques moved over to Colorado in 1995 and when the Jets relocated to Pheonix in 1996, there had been a void in the list of Canadian NHL franchises. The fact is, despite sitting 24th in the league with a 9-10-4 record, the Jets have sold out the MTS Centre for every single home game. Evidently, in Canada it’s not always about winning or losing, but rather the love of the game, a game that got a little more plentiful in Canada this year thanks to the return of the Jets.
CANADIANS IN STANLEY CUP FINALS - The Great White North Dominates The NHL In 2011
The 2011 Stanley Cup Finals were an epiphany for many, as the world was reminded that hockey truly is Canada’s game. It all started with the Vancouver Canucks and their almost-fairytale season. After winning the President’s Trophy by a landslide, the west coast hockey club battled through the NHL playoffs, becoming the first Canadian team to reach the coveted championship since the Ottawa Senators five seasons prior.
Taking their fate to the eleventh hour, the ‘Nucks squared off against the Boston Bruins in a game seven finale. Running out of gas though, they were defeated 4-0 by the black and gold – a team that, if any, a Canadian hockey fan should not be ashamed to lose to.
While the Bruins are stationed south of the border, their Cup-winning roster was jam-packed full of Canadians. Patrice Bergeron, Nathan Horton, Tyler Seguin, Milan Lucic, Brad Marchand, Mark Recchi – you name him, he was likely Canadian. In fact, only six players from the 21-man roster were not born in Canada – yet another testament to our home and native land’s utter dominance in the sport.
ARCADE FIRE - Canada’s Music Sensation Wins Just About Everything
In 2004, Canada’s newest rock sensation, Arcade Fire, dove head first into the music stratosphere with their critically acclaimed album, Funeral. The Montreal-based band – consisting of the husband and wife duo of Win Butler and Régine Chassagne, along with Will Butler, Richard Reed Parry, Tim Kingsbury, Marika Anthony-Shaw, Jeremy Gara, and Sarah Neufeld – was almost immediately welcomed into the world of rock’s elite. Coldplay’s Chris Martin called them “The greatest band in the history of music,” U2 uses AF’s music to walk on stage to at their own shows, Bruce Springsteen has covered their music and David Bowie immediately bought Funeral in bulk to give as gifts. But, no matter how many Top 100 lists their first and second album climbed their way onto, they still remained relatively underground, their accomplishments relatively modest and their members, relatively unnoticed. That is, until The Suburbs hit shelves in August 2010. Suddenly Arcade Fire was no. 1 in Canada, the U.S.A., the U.K. and countless other countries. They won the 2011 Juno for Album of the Year and the 2011 Polaris Music Prize here in Canada, but they also managed to beat out heavyweights Eminem, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and Lady Antebellum to snag the 2011 Grammy for Album of the Year.
THE SHEEPDOGS - The First Unsigned Band on the Cover of Rolling Stone … and They’re Canadian
As music fans, there are some Rolling Stone covers we’ll never forget – Janet Jackson (sans shirt), Yoko and John (OK that one was a bit weird), Mick, Jimi … the list goes on. But as Canadians, it’s the August 18, 2011 issue that tops our “unforgettable” pile. For the first time in its 40-plus-year history, Rolling Stone Magazine showcased an unsigned band on its cover: Canadian boogie rock revivalists, The Sheepdogs.
After months of deliberation and over 1.5 million online votes, the “Choose the Cover of the Rolling Stone” contest was narrowed to 16 bands. The Sheepdogs were the only Canadian band to be shortlisted.
Rolling Stone dropped the good news on August 1 that the boys from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan won the grand prize, which included a contract with Atlantic Records. And as if that wasn’t enough to validate this band’s cool factor, they also performed on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, killed it at Bonnaroo, and spent some quality time with Heidi Klum getting custom threads on Project Runway.
KIENAN HERBERT - Kidnapped B.C. Boy Returned Safely to His Family
Let’s face it; watching the news can be a real downer. Without fail, you are inundated with stories of senseless and random acts of violence and betrayal. When news broke of three-year-old Kienen Hebert’s disappearance from his Sparwood, B.C. home on September 7, Canadians across the country retreated to what has become a normal and conditioned response to these situations: hopelessness. But this story had a different ending than most, and that’s why it made our 2011 Year In Review list.
Days after his abduction, in the midst of a massive manhunt that spanned two provinces, Kienan was returned to his family home by his kidnapper, unharmed.
While stories like these evoke lost feelings of hope and faith – fitting for the season upon us – there’s another element here that really got us thinking: forgiveness. The parents of the young boy later met with the man charged with kidnapping their son – and forgave him. While it’s not the path that all parents might take in this situation, it’s proof that there’s always room for forgiveness in all of us.
OCCUPY TORONTO - A Little Drama for a lot of Equality
The gridlock-causing, park-dwelling demonstration known as Occupy Toronto was arguably one of the most newsworthy events of 2011 (and possibly 2012 as well, at this rate). Protesting against economic inequality, corporate greed, and the influence of corporations and lobbyists on government, thousands of Torontonians poured into Bay Street and St. James park to show our government who’s boss.
This monumental demonstration of activism was spurred not by the protestors’ distaste for the items that they are protesting, but by a similar movement taking place in the United States called Occupy Wall Street.
Because some of the property being occupied in Toronto belongs to a church and not the city, bylaw officers – following a Superior Court judge ruling – began handing out trespassing notices to those camped in the park. The eviction process has created a bit of a lull in the protestors’ momentum, but there are rumblings of the movement taking up their cause at new locations throughout the city.
RESEARCH IN MOTION - BlackBerry Messenger (a.k.a. BBM) Goes Down
There’s an old adage that still stands true in life and perhaps even more so in business: “It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.” This year, Canadian telecommunications heavyweight, Research in Motion (RIM), had – let’s call it an “opportunity” – to show the world what they’re made of when an unexpected failure in their infrastructure sparked an unprecedented, global outrage.
When RIM’s signature service BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) went down for three days in October, BlackBerry users were forced to resort to other means of communication to get their fill of sad faces and “WTFs”. They flocked to the twitter scene and ran straight for Facebook and other forums to express their distaste in RIM’s lack of customer service and support during the downtime.
In response, RIM offered a make good of the very best kind: a monetary one. They offered BlackBerry users across the world a suite of premium apps originally worth $100, free of charge. The offer was part of the company’s plan to gain its users trust back and, hopefully, turn those sad faces upside down. And let’s be honest, nothing says “I’m sorry” like free stuff.
NEW MONEY - Stepping Up The Security
Another huge Canadian story from 2011 was the unveiling of the revamped Canadian currency. Although it feels like just yesterday that the Royal Canadian Mint began pressing new bills, even newer 100-dollar bills were sent into circulation this past November. With intentions of having the new 50s to leak in March, followed by the 20s, 10s and 5s in 2013, it won’t be long before our wallets are lined with these glossy, polished bills.
The all-new polymer notes look and feel quite different, but they’re a good change for Canadians. They are highly secure, durable, and innovative.
In place of a watermark are two visual features; a translucent maple leaf and a transparent window. The leaf includes a security feature that, when viewed close to the eye with a single-point light source behind, produces a circular image displaying the note’s denomination – something that should vastly reduce the amount of counterfeit production.
The imagery is much more sharp, cultural and thematic on this new form of money, featuring things like the Canadarm2, Dextre, The Canadian train, The Canadian National Vimy Memorial, the CCGS Amundsen, Inuktitut lettering, Medical Research and a vial of insulin.
TORONTO BANS SELLING OF SHARK FINS - The GTA Just Jot A Little More Humane
There was something fishy going on this past October in Toronto, literally. On October 24 the proposal to ban the sale of shark fin in Toronto – brought forth by three Toronto city councillors – was passed with a vote of 38 to 4 (one of those four being Toronto Mayor Rob Ford). The landmark decision will stop the possession, sale, trade and distribution of shark fins or derivative products. Anyone violating this ban will face fines ranging from $5,000 for a first-time offence to $100,000 for a third-time offence.
This victory for sharks did not come easily though. About 300 protestors showed up to Toronto City Hall when the voting was taking place claiming that the ban would hurt the restaurant industry. Furthermore, The Toronto Chinese Business Association banned together to issue a statement reinforcing that shark fishing is legal in Canada and perhaps the city should focus on “prevalent issues.” Shark fins are often used in a soup served at traditional Chinese weddings. Sadly, sharks are often killed inhumanely and thrown back into the ocean after their fin has been cut off.
Many argue in order for a real change to be noticed, the federal government will have to step up and impose a national ban on importation and consumption of shark fins. Nonetheless, Toronto has made a real stand in terms of animal rights.
JACK LAYTON, RIP - The Passing Of One Of Canada’s Most Powerful Men
The lovable mustachioed politician that we Canadians call “Jack” met his unfortunate fate this past year. Layton, who served as the leader of the New Democratic Party (NDP) for over eight years, brought his party to new heights, leading them to 103 seats – more than double their previous high. Clearly a man with a knack for making history, this was also enough to make the NDP the official opposition in the House of Commons for the first time in the party’s existence.
Layton was also responsible for creating some of the most inspiring words to ever hit the ears of Canadians – see page 112 and you’ll know what we’re talking about. He was a great politician, a great leader and a great public speaker, but what set him apart from the rest was how great of a person he was.
If there were ever a man to bow out of a prolonged bout against cancer with a smile on his face and optimism in his words, that man was Jack Layton. R.I.P. Jack.
TORNADO TEARS UP GODERICH, ON - Tragedy Brings The Community Together
On Sunday August 21, the town of Goderich - a small beach community of about 8,000 on the Lake Huron coastline – was struck by a massive F3 tornado. The disastrous winds of about 280 km/h spanned 500 metres at one point and for approximately 20 kilometres remained on the ground causing approximately $75 million in insurable damage, injuring 37 people and tossing around cars like mere toys.
Most devastating of all though was the loss of 61-year-old Norman Laberge. The storm claimed the life of the Lucknow resident who was working in a salt mine at the time. With a measley 12-minute tornado warning before it actually hit, nothing could have been done to prepare
Yet, in times of darkness, we need to remember that there is still light at the end of the tunnel. Promptly after the storm hit, Premier Dalton McGuinty announced that the Ontario government would be allocating $5 million in relief funds. The funds were to be used toward cleanup, recovery and also to help home owners and businesses where insurance is not able to help. The United Way of Perth-Huron has also raised and donated more than $145,000 to the Goderich Toronado Relief Fund, thanks in part to The Beer Store placing coin box’s in 40 area stores, which raised $6,901.58. And this is only the beginning of everyone who has stepped in to help.