We’re living in a fractious era in Canada, a time of too many touchy subjects and too many sharply drawn, seemingly irreconcilable political, regional and cultural differences.Worse, we’re about to hurl ourselves headlong into a federal election campaign in which these exaggerated divisions will only get worse.On this Canada Day, pause from all the polarizing putdowns and unite in celebration of 24 uplifting Canadian moments that have made the news since last Canada Day. Here’s a summer holiday two-four of unambiguously awesome achievements that every Canuck can be proud of or moved by — regardless of ideology or identity, longitude or latitude.Imbibe and enjoy.1. The Toronto Raptors won Canada’s first NBA championship in a sport invented by Canadian-born gym teacher James Naismith.2. University of Waterloo Prof. Donna Strickland won the Nobel Prize in Physics for her work developing “chirped pulse amplification” lasers.
Physics laureate Donna Strickland speaks during her Nobel Lecture Generating High-Intensity Ultrashort Optical Pulses at the Aula Magna, Stockholm University, in Stockholm, Sweden, on December 8, 2018.
HRISTINE OLSSON/AFP/Getty Images
3. Brooke Henderson became the first Canadian golfer to win the Canadian Open in 45 years, and later became — at age 21 — the most successful Canadian pro golfer ever, with a record nine LPGA victories.
WILLIAMSBURG, VA – MAY 24: Brooke M. Henderson of Canada hits her tee shot on the sixth hole during the second round of the Pure Silk Championship presented by Visit Williamsburg on the River Course at Kingsmill Resort on May 24, 2019 in Williamsburg, Virginia.
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4. Quebec City-born astronaut David Saint-Jacques rocketed to the International Space Station and set a new record for the single longest spaceflight by any Canadian (204 days).5. Viola Desmond, pioneering black activist from Nova Scotia (1914-1965), became the first non-royal woman to appear alone on a regularly circulated Canadian banknote when her image graced the country’s new $10 bill.6. Chinese-Canadian filmmaker Domee Shi — director of the eight-minute Bao, described as a “love letter to the sights and sounds” of Toronto — won an Oscar for Best Animated Short.
Becky Neiman-Cobb, left, and Domee Shi, winners of the award for best animated short film “Bao,” arrive at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019, in Beverly Hills, Calif.
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7. Former Torontonian Paul Massey won the Oscar for Best Sound Mixing for Bohemian Rhapsody, the smash-hit biopic about Queen singer Freddie Mercury.8. Ottawa-born actor Sandra Oh, of Grey’s Anatomy and Killing Eve fame, co-hosted the 2019 Golden Globe Awards — the first Canadian and the first person of Asian descent to do so.
Host and Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series Drama “for Killing Eve” nominee Sandra Oh arrives for the 76th annual Golden Globe Awards on January 6, 2019, at the Beverly Hilton hotel in Beverly Hills, California.
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9. Drake went into this year’s Grammys with seven nominations, second most of any artist, and a remarkable 35 lifetime Grammy nods — the second most nominations for any Canadian ever (behind producer/composer extraordinaire David Foster, who has 47 nominations and 16 wins.) Drake won his third Grammy for Best Rap Song, God’s Plan, its lyrics sprinkled with references to Toronto.10. In a Canadian medical first, a team of Montreal surgeons announced they’d performed a successful face transplant on a severely disfigured Quebec man, victim of a 2011 hunting accident.11. Canadian journalist Joel Eastwood, a graphics editor with the Wall Street Journal, won a Pulitzer Prize as part of the WSJ team that traced the history of hush-money payments to former lovers of U.S. President Donald Trump.12. Champion ice dancers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, the most decorated figure skaters in Olympic history, earned stars on Canada’s Walk of Fame.
Gold medal winners Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada celebrate during the victory ceremony for the Figure Skating Ice Dance Free Dance on day eleven of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games ,
Maddie Meyer /
13. Karen Kain, former principal dancer and now artistic director of the National Ballet of Canada, will become the first person from outside the United Kingdom to receive the highest award bestowed by Britain’s Royal Academy of Dance.14. Freestyle skier Mikaël Kingsbury — “the Wayne Gretzky of moguls” — finished the latest season as reigning world champion, defending Olympic gold medallist and Canada’s top male athlete of the year. He also landed the first-ever cork 1440-degree, four-rotation backflip in competition.15. Colombian-born, Toronto-raised choreographer Sergio Trujillo won a Tony Award for his work on the hit Broadway show Ain’t Too Proud — The Life and Times of the Temptations.16. “Butterfly Boy” Jonathan Pitre, who had died in April 2018 at age 17 of the painful skin disease epidermolysis bullosa, was posthumously named winner of the inaugural “Inspiration Award” of the Ottawa chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. The award offered one more poignant reminder of the young man’s remarkable life of courage and legacy of hope.
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17. Four-time Olympian Nicholas Gill of Montreal became the first Canadian inducted into the International Judo Federation Hall of Fame.18. It was reported that a long-running captive breeding program in Alberta, which released peregrine falcons into the wild, would soon lose its funding. But this was good news. Thanks to falcon conservation efforts across the country, the once-endangered raptor (a victim of pesticide pollution in the 1970s) has been pulled back from the brink of extinction.19. Canadian-born game show host Alex Trebek revealed in March that he had advanced pancreatic cancer. But the 78-year-old Sudbury native won widespread admiration for his forthright and optimistic approach to his cancer fight. And when he won his seventh Daytime Emmy Award in May — then announced soon after that his cancer was in “near remission” — the quizmaster’s health battle became one of the most uplifting stories of the year.
Alex Trebek speaks at the 44th annual Daytime Emmy Awards at the Pasadena Civic Center in Pasadena, Calif. on April 30, 2017.
Chris Pizzello /
Invision/Associated Press – file
20. Canadian Paralympic triathlete Stefan Daniel successfully defended his 2017 World Championship title at the 2018 competition in Australia. The 22-year-old Calgarian, born with bilateral radial club hands, first became world champ in 2015.21. Victoria-based author Esi Edugyan won the $100,000 Scotiabank Giller Prize for her novel Washington Black, the chronicle of an escaped slave. Edugyan also won the 2011 Giller for Half-Blood Blues.22. Saskatchewan’s Hayley Wickenheiser, widely viewed as the greatest women’s hockey player ever, was named to the Hockey Hall of Fame.23. It was dubbed the “Golden Booker” — a special contest to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the U.K.’s prestigious Man Booker Prize by identifying the very best English-language novel from a half-century of previous Booker winners. The winner of all winners, announced last July, was Canadian author Michael Ondaatje’s 1992 novel The English Patient.24. A handful of 90-something Canadian veterans of the 1944 D-Day landings at Juno Beach — each of them liberators of Europe from Nazi Germany — gathered again along the French coast in early June to mark the 75th anniversary of the pivotal Allied operation of the Second World War.
Canadian veterans stand for the National Anthem during the international ceremony on Juno Beach in Courseulles-sur-Mer, Normandy, northwestern France, on June 6, 2019, as part of D-Day commemorations marking the 75th anniversary of the World War II Allied landings in Normandy.
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Carleton University journalism Prof. Randy Boswell is a former Citizen reporter and editor.