The 2017 Bay Street Bull Power 50 List
WRITTEN BY PASQUALE CASULLO, LISA CHARLEYBOY, CHRISTINA GONZALES, CHRISTOPHER METLER, NICHOLAS MIZERA, MARISSA SINCLAIR, RYAN YUH
What does “power” mean to you?
In our third annual Power 50 guide, we set out to find the people, places and things that embody this very word. Things that we believe you should know about. Things that are putting our country on the map.
From business titans and civil rights activists to innovation hubs and world-dominating brands, Canada is full of incredible stories that give us much reason to be proud. Now, more than ever, it’s a great time to living in the Great White North.
Need proof? Click through the links below and take a look at our 2017 inductees – we dare you not to be inspired :
MARS DISCOVERY DISTRICT
BLACK LIVES MATTER TORONTO
PEACE BY CHOCOLATE
LEEN AL ZAIBAK
GWAII HAANAS NATIONAL PARK RESERVE
BANFF NATIONAL PARK
WAPUSK NATIONAL PARK
AUYUITTUQ NATIONAL PARK
BRUCE PENINSULA NATIONAL PARK
FUNDY NATIONAL PARK
AGA KHAN MUSEUM
STUDIO BELL, THE NATIONAL MUSIC CENTRE
CANADIAN MUSEUM FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
AUDAIN ART MUSEUM
GRANT VAN GAMEREN
ORDER OF CANADA
Entrepreneur; Flex-N-Gate, Jacksonville Jaguars, Fulham Football Club, Four Seasons Hotel Toronto
INTERVIEW BY DAVID KING
PHOTOGRAPHY BY JANICK LAURENT
HAIR AND MAKE-UP BY CHRISTINA SPINA
It’s not every day that you get to meet someone who collects big businesses like Shahid (Shad) Khan. Then again, Khan isn’t like most business moguls. Despite his incredible success (he currently has a net worth of approximately $8.7 billion), Khan is one of the most charismatic and hard-working entrepreneurs you will ever meet in your lifetime.
Perhaps his work ethic and grit can be attributed to his humble, yet incredible, journey to the top. Like so many immigrant stories, Khan came to America from Pakistan in 1967 at the age of 16, with only $500 in his pocket and a vision for a brighter future. While pursuing an engineering degree at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Khan took up work at automotive parts company, Flex-N-Gate, until leaving to start his own business, Bumper Works. It was at Bumper Works where Khan would revolutionize the industry with his one-piece bumper design. He was a disruptor before “disruption” was a thing.
Fast forward to today and Flex-N-Gate (which he later acquired and merged with Bumper Works) is now a global company with clients that include every major automotive manufacturer in North America, Japan, and Europe. Not one to rest on his laurels, Khan has also diversified his portfolio of entrepreneurial ventures to include the Jacksonville Jaguars (he is a big American football fan, and also the first member of an ethnic minority to own an NFL team), the London-based Fulham Football Club, and the Four Seasons Hotel Toronto.
Operating 11 plants in Ontario through Flex-N-Gate as well as his most recent acquisition of the luxury Toronto hotel makes Khan’s connection to Canada deeper than ever before. With his signature whimsy moustache and uncanny electric energy, Khan’s story is the epitome of not only what immigrant dreams are made of, but all dreams. It is proof that diversity is indeed synonymous with hope, opportunity, and success.
Your path to success was paved by hard work and the entrepreneurial spirit. Are these qualities something that you picked up when you first came to America, or have you always had it?
I think a lot of things happened to me when I was young that weren’t premeditated. Pakistan is just like Canada, part of the Commonwealth. And for most people, like my relatives, they sought fame and fortune in Britain. By the 60s, though, it was like there was a new world where you were looking for greater opportunity—and that was America. I think for my generation, the aspiration was to go to America, and the way that you could do that was by having a college education. In pursuing engineering, I knew I would be able to do better, so that’s what I aspired to.
During your early days at Flex-N-Gate, when did you realize that you could create a better mousetrap in the world of bumpers?
I didn’t have a green card, I had a permit to work “X” number of hours. I was working there before I really had a degree, but it was in the shop, and it was hard work. Most of the work involved fabricating bumpers, which were assembly welded out of multiple pieces. I thought if we could make it out of one piece and eliminate all that stuff, it would get rid of all the unpleasant work. It’s metal, so if you hold it tight and try forming it, it will wrinkle and tear. It’s a matter of finding that balance. Obviously, I had no money or time, so at night I experimented with various techniques and came up with a process to do it by researching various engineering journals.
Was that the advantage of being a student?
It’s very technical, but I had access to the labs and, most importantly, the engineering libraries. And in those days, that stuff wasn’t online so you physically had to go through journals and handbooks. But at night, if I needed to use a tool or a piece of machinery, I could do it at work. And so having the best of both worlds taught me something valuable—that I wanted to stay in school. I took a graduate-school class every semester for five or six years after finishing my undergraduate degree just so I could have access to the facilities.
“KNOWLEDGE IS POWER. THERE IS NO SUBSTITUTE FOR EDUCATION, WHETHER IT’S FORMAL OR INFORMAL.”
When you started your first business, Bumper Works, was it driven by this entrepreneurial mentality to take a risk? Or was it something that you considered doing within Flex-N-Gate?
The latter. Flex-N-Gate made parts for ranchers and farmers. For me, the next step was figuring out how to make this technology lighter and stronger. There would be no lead market with the ranchers, and even the fuel efficiency laws didn’t apply back then. This [technology] would only really apply to a carmaker.
So, I just took some ideas and sold them to General Motors (GM). You’ve got to remember that this is a very risk-averse world. In those days, GM was the world’s largest corporation with a five percent GDP. They really had no interest in my ideas.
By accident, during the energy crisis, one of the engineers had missed the weight target. The fuel efficiency was two miles less per gallon. So the guys that I knew said, “You know, I’m going to get fired because we missed the weight target.” To which I responded, “Okay, how much does a bumper weigh?” “45 pounds”, they said, and they missed the target by ten.
I said, “If you could have 15 pounds less weight, you would come in below the target by five pounds and life would be good.” They said, “Yeah.” So I gave them my design and made it for them because they couldn’t do it. I sold [my bumpers], and the rest is history.
You bought the company you worked for, Flex-N-Gate, later on. How did that come about?
I left Flex-N-Gate, and in came a purchase order from GM. After setting up Bumper Works, Chrysler had exactly the same problem as GM: they missed their weight target, so I said, “Great, I have a solution.”
Then Flex-N-Gate sued me because they said I stole their ideas. I learned a lot about intellectual property [from that experience]. They went through the legal system and lost at every level, and then it became a big corporate embarrassment. We needed capacity at Bumper Works, and they said, “Why don’t you just buy it?”
CLIMBING TO THE TOP
The most growth within your business seems to have happened during the early days of Flex-N-Gate. As a small business, you went up against global players like GM. What were some of the advantages of operating as a small business?
Agility, and not being held hostage to the structure, politics, tradition of how things were done. So the advantage was openness, I guess. The key thing for me was having good ideas—how you shape your metal, how you make parts lighter. GM gave me a purchase order so I could buy a machine and get a small business loan. Literally a year later, they were the first ones who said, “Look, we really think what you’ve done is amazing. Thank you very much. We’re going to apply it across our product lines, but you aren’t big enough, so you’re not going to be a supplier for us anymore.”
I had all the innovation, and they took it away. I started a business, took out loans, and all of the sudden I didn’t have any customers. Welcome to the corporate life.
So what did you do?
GM, Ford, Chrysler—they had no need for a small, innovative company. They were big and had a real good system. The only way for me to move forward was to find customers who would value innovation. That was the Japanese. They were just coming into the US then, and they didn’t have established relationships. There was no bias based on how many employees I had, how many machines I owned, how many square feet of space we worked from, and all that.
In the 80s, I was able to go to Japan, pound the pavement, and get their business because they didn’t have a history of relationships.
Today, Flex-N-Gate is a diversified business. Was it always your vision to evolve? Or was this something that came organically from opportunities?
When it comes to opportunities, I’m certain that the only certainty is uncertainty. There will be change, and you have to adapt to it.
“WHEN IT COMES TO OPPORTUNITIES, I’M CERTAIN THAT THE ONLY CERTAINTY IS UNCERTAINTY. THERE WILL BE CHANGE, AND YOU HAVE TO ADAPT TO IT.”
You now have a portfolio of companies that have defined your public persona, and that exist completely outside of your manufacturing story. From the Four Seasons Hotel Toronto to the Jacksonville Jaguars, what has attracted you to them?
I love American football, and when the Rams came up, I tried to buy them but was outbid. This was in 2010. So in the 120 years of the NFL, they’ve never had a non-white owner on their staff. I heard that this would never happen, and sure enough for many, many reasons, it didn’t happen. But I said, “You know what? I’m going to keep doing it until I get it.” And then the [Jacksonville] Jaguars happened.
Everything is about money. If you don’t have the money or the resources, you can’t do anything. That was the genesis for my business in football. The Four Seasons is different because I’ve had my plant in Canada since the mid-90s, in Windsor, Ontario.
What do you think of Toronto?
I love Toronto. I would come here and try to get a room at the Four Seasons, but it was always full or had a ridiculous rate. When it came up for sale, I said, ‘This is the chance.” It’s a great business; a great institution. I’m not going to have to work too hard to get a room now.
The Four Seasons Hotel Toronto is considered one of the most prestigious hotels in the country. What drew you to it? Why now?
I think Four Seasons exemplifies Canada at its finest. It was born in Toronto. I had the pleasure of meeting Isadore Sharp, the chairman of Four Seasons. The empire grew out of here, and it’s recognized as the best in international hospitality. And why now? When your time comes, you execute.
What about taking over the Four Seasons Toronto excites you the most? What is your vision for it?
I think it all boils down to people. The Four Seasons has good people that have had great success, but I think there’s a lot for them to do. Even though it’s less than five years old, we’re doing some enhancements. There’s a gap between Four Seasons and other “luxury” hotels in Toronto. Our goal is to make that gap wider.
What are the things that you look for in a leadership team?
Two qualities: money has to motivate them, and they have to want to make a difference. You’ve got to have both—one or the other is not good. So you look for somebody that you like, trust, and have a human connection with.
You give back to so many different communities. Where do you feel like you’re able to make the biggest impact?
We all have constraints. It could be time, or money, or energy. To be successful, any business has to take care of its customers, has to make money so they can take care of their employees, and then make a difference in their community. Intellectually, it comes down to choice.
How has your immigrant experience shaped you, considering the current dialogue around immigration?
I think you’ve got to be a role model, not because you want to, but because people expect you to. Actions speak louder than words. You can’t just talk about something, you have to practice it. And you have to articulate it at the appropriate time, otherwise it will fall on deaf ears.
What does being a part of Canada mean to you?
I don’t know if it’s politically correct, but people ask me in the US, and I tell them, “Yeah, I think Canada is a kinder, gentler America.” If we didn’t have the right to bear arms in the US, Canada is what we would have aspired to become. You cannot have a growing country without diversity and immigration; there really are a lot of great things about Canada. – DK
Photo courtesy of Paramount Fine Foods
CEO, Paramount Fine Foods
When a despicable act of terrorism struck Quebec City’s Islamic Cultural Centre earlier this year, the Canadian community answered the only way we know how: we rallied ourselves in a call for solidarity and refused to be driven apart by the display of hatred. We held vigils across the country, and we invited Canadians of all beliefs and walks of life to band together.
In the midst of the healing process, the efforts of one man in particular stood out. Someone who didn’t just offer to personally cover the funeral costs for each of the victims’ families, but raised over $100,000 for their benefit. And though this spirit of giving is no doubt an inherent Canadian quality, the actual origin of these altruistic deeds was not quite as obvious.
The charitable endeavour could instead be traced to one of Canada’s most influential restaurateurs: Mohamad Fakih, CEO of Paramount Fine Foods. However, as anyone who has followed Fakih’s ascent from fast-food labourer to emerging mogul of Middle Eastern cuisine can attest, it merely represented the latest in his commitment to fortify Canada’s cultural mosaic.
A Lebanon native who emigrated to Canada in 1999, Mohamad Fakih refers to himself as equal parts Muslim and Canadian. In his mind, there is no border separating the two. And since Fakih views Canada as the land which afforded his greatest opportunities, he’s intent on repaying the debt, even going on record to say that we can only build Canada’s future by giving back.
Consider the impact then of Mohamad Fakih’s most significant triumph: his flourishing culinary empire. Boasting upwards of 60 locations, Paramount Fine Foods is North America’s fastest-growing Middle Eastern halal restaurant chain. Fakih has subsequently been credited with introducing Lebanese food to a receptive Canadian mainstream, which in turn has helped offset long-held prejudices against the style of cooking.
Or just take a look at Fakih’s steadfast dedication to aiding others. We witnessed it in his response to the Quebec mosque shooting. But we’ve also been able to observe his goodwill in his pledge to provide jobs for Canada’s incoming Syrian refugees. As a matter of fact, within nine months of their 2016 arrival, Fakih had already staffed over 80 refugees as Paramount employees.
Again, it all circles back to Fakih’s resolve to reinforce that very Canadian cultural mosaic we spoke of earlier. Which, frankly, is something we desperately need to believe in at the moment, given these troubling times: religious and societal tensions are being exploited with historic ferocity, violence across the globe is escalating, and unfiltered rhetoric rules the day.
Now more than ever, we must turn toward those who seek to unite, not divide.
Few have set a better example in recent memory than Mohamad Fakih, who doesn’t just talk the talk, but walks the walk. And we can only hope that his determined steps have the potential to inspire some big strides forward. – CM
Founder, Fogo Island Inn
“A great hotel should be a mirror for the place it’s in,” says Fogo Island Inn owner, Zita Cobb. “We reflect Fogo Island.”
Cobb was born on Fogo Island, the largest of the offshore islands in Newfoundland and Labrador, with a population of just over 2,200. And although Cobb left Fogo Island at the age of 16 (she turned a fortune years later in the dot-com industry), the island itself never left her.
Eventually, Cobb returned to construct Fogo Island Inn, an ultra-modern, luxe guest house celebrated not just for its setting in a remote 18th-century fishing village, but for the flawless interaction between the Inn’s physical aesthetic and Fogo Island’s own culture, geology, and wildlife.
Cobb is intensely passionate about this mutually-beneficial relationship.
“By walking through the doors of the Inn,” she says, “you are walking through the doors of the community. We never miss an opportunity to put Fogo Island into the details. From the wallpaper to the food to the very materials the Inn is made of, everything was meant to help the visitor taste, touch, smell, and feel the local. And the ultimate in symbiosis is that the Inn belongs to the community through its charitable structure. As a social business, all surpluses are returned to the community.”
The prize of Fogo Island, Fogo Island Inn is ranked year after year on a global scale for offering some of the best accommodations in the world. It’s also consistently highlighted as one of the coolest creative hubs and hideaways around. As proud as she is of the inn’s acclaim, Cobb admits there is a special kind of honour that inspires feelings of fulfillment.
“The recognitions that mean the most are always the ones that highlight our relationship with the general public, our work to help strengthen the fabric of this Fogo Island collective, and those that recognize our underlying mission of enforcing and fortifying the natural and cultural heritage of Fogo Island itself.”
“And, of course, any award that celebrates the exceptional, embodied hospitality that our staff offers to our guests gives us great joy.”
Cobb likes to stress, however, that she runs more than just a design-minded establishment that provides paid lodging on a short-term basis.
“Fogo Island Inn is a social business,” Cobb repeats. “We believe in the power of business to strengthen the fabric of society. We are an example of business for good, and the potential of business as a restorative force.”
One particular tool Zita Cobb uses to illustrate this impact? “Our practice of economic nutrition labeling,” she remarks. “A simple label—modeled after food labels—that tells you where the money goes. We have a label for a stay at the Inn, and we have labels for our Fogo Island Shop pieces.” – CM
Illustration by Deshi Deng
Chief scientific officer, Vector Institute; engineering fellow, Google Canada; professor, University of Toronto
Silicon Valley, Redmond, Waterloo—all are well-known hotspots of innovation in technology. But British-born University of Toronto professor Geoffrey Hinton, 69, could be responsible for putting Toronto on the list. The computer scientist’s pioneering research, punctuated by high-profile breakthroughs and several awards, has lifted the now-teeming field of deep learning—a type of artificial intelligence (AI) which uses neural networks modeled after the human brain to learn—out of obscurity, and earned him the title of the “godfather” of deep learning. The more excitable among us hail it as the next big thing in technology, an advance rivalling the advent of computing itself.
Deep learning programs use algorithms to consume data and, in turn, learn to recognize patterns and create meaning through interactions, not unlike humans.. This is in stark contrast to rule-based AI, which requires coding in order to produce consistent results—and even then, only after plenty of fine tuning. (Deep learning programs can fine tune themselves, thank you very much.) With our current level of computing technology, conventional AI can’t even scratch the surface of the human brain’s intricacies, but deep learning can. The result is a distinctly human-like machine that can not only receive and execute directions or requests, but can also interpret meaning, nuance, and context granted it’s given enough time and input to master such skills.
Our day-to-day lives are already impacted by Hinton’s research. As a professor at U of T, Hinton’s grad students developed a neural network for speech recognition that essentially proved the concept worked. Google—where Hinton has headed a Toronto-based machine learning division known as the ‘Brain Team’ since 2013—used the technology in their Android phones, spurring other tech giants to follow suit.
Now, similar deep learning programs can perform a variety of recognition tasks, from picking faces out of a crowd to reading genes for inherited diseases. As the next generation of deep learning gets more powerful, it’s already fuelling advances that can lead to better decision-making for technology, like self-driving cars and virtual assistants. Recent breakthroughs even hint at the possibility of neural networks bridging the divide between machine and human thought. If you were impressed by computers teaching themselves to recognize cat’s faces in 2012, consider that a Google program shaped by Hinton’s research recently beat South Korea’s Lee Sedol—a grandmaster at Go, an ancient board game considered magnitudes more complex than chess.
Investors are starting to take notice, not least those in government. Hinton has been tapped to fill the role of chief scientific adviser at the Vector Institute, an artificial intelligence hub that opened in March through a combination of federal, provincial, and private funding. The opening comes on the heels of Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s federal budget, which included a $125-million boost to fund a national artificial intelligence strategy. Through these efforts, Canada’s tech sector stands to end the southward flow of top talent—and even steal some from its neighbours—to make a name for itself as a leader in the emerging technology. – NM
It may come as a surprise to some, but a number of the most successful technology companies out there were founded and cultivated right here on home soil: Shopify, Research in Motion, Hootsuite, Kik, etc. As a result, innovation hubs have gained momentum across the Great White North; they’re petri dishes cultivating our nation’s brightest minds, which bring a host of researchers, venture capitalists, and entrepreneurs together to establish Canada as a tech mecca in the global community. Here are a few that are leading the charge. – RY
MARS DISCOVERY DISTRICT
Brain drain? We think not. One of the world’s largest urban innovation hubs, MaRS Discovery District, has played an instrumental role in convincing our nation’s top talent that they need not leave the country in order to find success. The organization works hand-in-hand with the public and private spheres in order to provide startups and entrepreneurs with vital necessities like a strong social network, capital, and expertise. They’ve done so well, in fact, that they’ve managed to attract Facebook, Airbnb, Etsy, and other tech giants to set up offices in the District. How’s that for a stamp of approval?
Here are some impressive numbers for you: since 2010, Ryerson DMZ has incubated 287 startups, raised over $306 million in seed funding, and created more than 2,700 jobs. Not too shabby, right? Occupying almost 33,000-square-feet in the heart of downtown Toronto, their headquarters bring together a colourful array of students, entrepreneurs, partners, and mentors from the community to create some of the most exciting startups today, which range from FinTech lending platforms to space-based communication systems.
35 years. That’s how long this University of Calgary technology-transfer and business incubation centre has committed itself to driving innovation—ages before startup culture was considered “cool.” Working on a local, national, and international level, Innovate Calgary helps its startups by not only consulting on business fundamentals, but also by connecting researchers and entrepreneurs with investors and licensing partners, creating an important ecosystem that’s crucial to driving change forward.
Photo courtesy of Turner Entertainment Network
Television host, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee
Here are just a few reasons we can’t get enough of Samantha Bee.
She has developed into maybe the best thing going on late-night TV. In fact, Bee’s popular talk and news satire program, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, was not only met with universal acclaim upon premiering last year, but has been hailed by many as the true successor to Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show. It’s of course no secret that his replacement, Trevor Noah, has failed to cut the mustard since taking the reins of the beloved late-night institution. This consequently left a void for Stewart’s brand of no-holds-barred, politically relevant humour. However, Bee—a former correspondent on the Comedy Central series, who some felt should have been offered Stewart’s desk in the first place—masterfully employs a scathing and incisive approach on Full Frontal to help fill it. She may be competing with fellow Daily Show alum Stephen Colbert and John Oliver in the unofficial race to take up Stewart’s mantle, but consider this: unlike Colbert’s current ratings winner, The Late Show, Bee’s Full Frontal airs only once a week. Which means the ‘less is more’ strategy doesn’t just shield her from potential viewer fatigue, it arms Bee to the teeth with an abundance of hot-button issues to tackle in each new biting installment.
She ain’t afraid to wage an all-out assault on the Trump regime. And really, why should Samantha Bee hold back? Donald Trump’s presidency is proving to be comedy gold for late-night satire. One need only look at how ratings and advertising have risen across the board for those who’ve doubled down on The Donald. Evidently, this hasn’t been lost on Bee, who comes out guns blazing at the US’s Commander-in-Chief week after week. Whether mocking Trump’s failure to deliver on key campaign promises, or dissecting the continued missteps of his embattled administration, absolutely no one can accuse her of shying away from the public affairs that dominate our cultural conversation. (Jimmy Fallon, take note.) In a recent display of chutzpah, Bee even hosted her own gala to counter April’s annual White House Correspondents Dinner, aptly called ‘Not the White House Correspondents’ Dinner.’
Last but not least—she is a proud Canadian. Born in Toronto, Bee attended school at the city’s Humberside and York Memorial collegiate institutions. She then enrolled at McGill in Montreal, later transferring to the University of Ottawa in our nation’s capital. This is where Bee discovered her love of performing, which she went on to hone back home at George Brown College’s theatre department, as well as in a number of local acting gigs. And if you’re familiar with Toronto-based sketch comedy troupe—The Atomic Fireballs—Bee was one of their founding members, too. Sure, Canada is widely recognized as a hotbed for celebrated comedic talent, laying claim to the iconic likes of Jim Carrey, Mike Myers, Dan Aykroyd and Eugene Levy, among others. Yet to think that one of our own—a woman soon closing in on her 50th year, no less—has become perhaps the most trusted voice in American political satire;the significance of that speaks loud and clear. – CM
Photo courtesy of Aaron Wynia
Founder, October’s Very Own (OVO); co-manager, Drake
Try as he might, October’s Very Own (OVO) mastermind, Oliver El-Khatib, has trouble maintaining a low profile. There’s no avoiding the publicity when you’re Drake’s co-manager (alongside Future ‘Adel’ Nur).
“I’m a worker,” the elusive OVO founder and Toronto native quietly communicated in a 2016 interview. It’s a downright modest position for him to take in today’s wildly ostentatious music, fashion, and lifestyle landscapes—which, incidentally, are all rackets that OVO has become an industry leader in. But it’s the truth. El-Khatib is a workhorse and OVO reflects it.
From housing arguably the most influential rapper on the planet, to inking an Apple Music deal, to an exciting collaboration with Nike’s Jordan athletic label, to their eponymous apparel line (the last three are just a small sampling of OVO exploits that El-Khatib has addressed on record), few can argue the extent to which OVO has spread its trademark owl insignia’s wings upon contemporary urban culture.
El-Khatib doesn’t just have his fingerprints all over this growing OVO portfolio—he’s actually got his hand at the spigot.
There’s little need to run through his résumé. Or to recount how he and Drake made it together from day one. If you’ve read this far, chances are you’re already well up to speed, and it’s all been covered ad nauseam anyway. Instead, let’s just quickly acknowledge what is likely El-Khatib’s proudest achievement: his critical role in planting Toronto’s flag on the global map as an artistic and sonic hub.
It all circles back to his notion of putting in work. Hard work, at that. The hard work of Drake, the hard work of the teams behind the OVO Sound, OVO Sound Radio, OVO Fest, OVO Clothing and other OVO platforms, and the hard work of El-Khatib.
It’s certain that without that kind of grind—to unwavering creative standards, to knowing themselves from day one, to staying the course in the uncertain early stages, to owning everything they do—likely none of OVO’s greatest triumphs, past or present, would have been possible.
Just think of how easily (and carelessly) the brand could have rushed to capitalize on Drake’s initial fame, proliferate the market, peak early and fizzle out fast—like so many rap acts before them, all of whom claimed they were ‘branching out’ but were really just cashing in and going on to launch endless side projects with zero long-term vision, simply expecting the money to funnel in. But OVO didn’t. They took their time. They tirelessly laboured at developing their identity. They let the expansion come organically. And they succeeded.
As the brains behind the operation, El-Khatib deserves much of the credit for that.
Call him an enigma. Call him an architect. Call him a trailblazer. But above all else, call him a worker. – CM
Illustration by Valentyn Babiiets
Politician, New Democratic Party (NDP)
We can say one thing for Canadian politicians — they certainly know how to make an impression. Among them is the charismatic, dapper and young example of Canadian multiculturalism known as Jagmeet Singh. Deputy leader of the Ontario New Democratic Party and provincial representative of Brampton, Singh is busy making a name for himself as a rising star who could lead Canada into a new era of progressivism.
The whip-smart lawyer (he formed his own practice in 2007) wears his ideals on his sleeve, not unlike a certain Canadian prime minister. But the similarities between the 2013 Sikh of the Year (yes, that’s a thing) and Justin Trudeau end at their shared penchant for selfies and slim-fitting suits. For one, Singh supports electoral reform, a campaign promise Trudeau unceremoniously abandoned in February.
In his own right, Singh has stood up to precarious employment and unfair auto insurance practices. Singh has also engaged with Ontario’s racialized communities, speaking out against Islamophobia, the Toronto Police Service’s carding policies, and other forms of discrimination. But his inclusive platform isn’t the only reason Singh has seen immense popularity among young Canadians who may not always see themselves reflected by what has traditionally been a worker’s party. Singh uses his social media game to spread his message and engage with this next generation of voters. (And just look at that stylish Instagram.)
After months of speculation about Singh’s next career move, on May 15, Singh announced that he’d be campaigning to be the next federal leader of the NDP. If his campaign is successful, he’ll will be the first non-white leader of a national party, and (if all goes according to plan) the first non-white prime minister of Canada. Although campaigning takes a major toll on a politician’s schedule, Singh isn’t giving up his Ontario seat to run; he’s staying on the front lines. All of this news is thrilling for Singh, but for the rest of us too: in a few short years, the NDP we know could be an entirely different party—young, empowered, and, potentially, running the country. -NM
Illustration by Evelyn Roitner
Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Government of Canada
Jody Wilson-Raybould’s Twitter handle is @puglaas. It’s not just a unique username, though. It means “a woman born to noble people.”
“Puglaas” is from the Kwak’wala language, and is a name that was given to Wilson-Raybould by her grandmother during a naming ceremony when she was a young child. Wilson-Raybould descends from the Musgamagw Tsawataineuk and Laich-Kwil-Tach peoples, which are part of the Kwakwaka’wakw Nation of northern Vancouver Island and the central coast of British Columbia.
Her grandmother, known as Pugladee, wasn’t just the matriarch of the family, she also had incredible foresight into her granddaughter’s rise to prominence within the First Nations community and beyond. Wilson-Raybould is making waves as the first Indigenous Minister of Justice. She was appointed as Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in November 2015, after having served as a Liberal member of Parliament in the Vancouver-Granville riding.
Wilson-Raybould’s passion for First Nations issues and advocacy was instilled at an early age. Her father, Bill Wilson, was an outspoken aboriginal leader, hereditary chief, and lawyer who successfully lobbied Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau in 1982 to amend the Constitution Act to enshrine indigenous rights. Wilson-Raybould was just 12-years-old when she watched her father on live television at the constitutional conference in 1983. During an exchange with Trudeau at the conference, Bill Wilson told the prime minister that his daughter hoped to not only be a lawyer one day, but to also become prime minister of Canada.
Who would have known then that Wilson-Raybould and Pierre Trudeau’s son, Justin, would not only cross paths one day, but create history themselves?
Following in her father’s footsteps, Wilson-Raybould earned her law degree at the University of British Columbia, the same place that her father studied law when she was born. After being called to the bar in 2000, she cut her teeth as a Crown prosecutor for three years in a Vancouver courtroom that was too often filled with aboriginal defendants.
In 2003, she was convinced by BC Haida leader, Miles Richardson, to serve as a senior advisor for the BC Treaty Commission with Richardson as the chief commissioner. This role in the BC Treaty Commission, which was established to oversee treaty negotiations between First Nations and the Crown, helped Wilson-Raybould build a thicker skin, as land claims are quite contentious in the First Nations community. After serving as advisor for four years and chief commissioner for one year, she was elected as regional chief of the BC Assembly of First Nations (AFN).
“During her time as a political leader in BC, she immediately grasped the importance of the indigenous crown relationship from nation to nation, and the priority of strengthening indigenous governance to make that happen,” says Richardson. “Jody knows who she is and has the courage to live that. She knows her place in this world.”
In 2013, during the AFN’s annual general meeting, Justin Trudeau approached Wilson-Raybould to run for the Liberal Party. It wasn’t until the Idle No More movement that she decided to enter federal politics. A meeting with then Prime Minister Stephen Harper went awry, and made her feel that the Conservative Party wouldn’t support her desire for reconciliation between indigenous people and the Canadian government.
“We need lawmakers to realize how important it is that this transition be successful for all Canadians. The future of aboriginal peoples and all Canadians is mutually intertwined,” she remarked.
And while indigenous issues hit close to home, Wilson-Raybould also oversees a high-profile mandate of issues that keep Canadians regularly focused on her work: the legalization of marijuana, the inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women, the development of a framework to review the justice system, reviewing the government’s litigation strategy, reversing a ban on physician-assisted death, overhauling the Conservative anti-terrorism Bill 51 and 42 on firearms, reviewing all outstanding court cases involving the Crown, and working on embedding the Canadian Human Rights Act on First Nation reserves to prohibit discrimination in the workplace based on gender identity.
For example, last November, Raybould-Wilson’s proposed Bill C-16 was passed in the House of Commons, which amended the Canadian Human Rights Act to add gender identity and expression to the list of prohibited grounds for discrimination.
“All Canadians should feel safe to be themselves. Our strength as a nation lies in our diversity and our inclusiveness,” Jody Wilson-Raybould says. “It is our responsibility to recognize and reduce the vulnerability of trans and other gender-diverse persons to discrimination, hate propaganda, and hate crimes, and to affirm their equal status in Canadian society.”
During this time of reconciliation in Canada, Wilson-Raybould’s role within the Canadian political system is not only strategic, it’s essential. Puglaas (Wilson-Raybould) is known to approach her work methodically, rationally, and with compassion, which one might say is quite noble, itself. – RY
CANADA’S RISING HOCKEY STARS
When it comes to national pride, nothing elicits a response quite like our country’s love for hockey (and it’s champions). An exciting time indeed, recent years have seen a crop of fresh talent (both homegrown and internationally-cultivated) usher in a promising new era for Canada’s teams. – MS
Art by Adam Glowienka
Toronto Maple Leafs
Toronto hockey fans have waited a long time for something to talk about, and Auston Matthews is it. In his debut NHL season, the California-born Matthews’ wrist shot, footwork, and well-rounded play netted him 40 goals in the regular season. He is the first player in over a century to accomplish this feat. The 19-year-old phenom helped the Leafs advance to the 2017 NHL playoffs, one of five Canadian teams to do so. Hockey fans cannot wait to see this shoe-in Rookie of Year settle into what promises to be an impactful career, and Leafs fans are hoping he can bring the elusive Stanley Cup to Toronto.
Art by Adam Glowienka
In his second season, Richmond Hill-native, Connor McDavid, has already fulfilled the prophecies. Drafted first overall in the 2015 NHL Draft by the Edmonton Oilers, McDavid’s speed, omnivision, and playmaking ability at centre earned him 48 points in just 45 games in his rookie season. McDavid was the only player to hit 100 points this season, but this was not his only stand-out milestone: in October 2016, at the tender age of 19, McDavid became the youngest-ever player to be named captain of an NHL team. This year, McDavid has led the Oilers to the NHL playoffs, ending the team’s decade-long playoff drought. Next up? The Stanley Cup.
Art by Adam Glowienka
Gaudreau’s transition to the big leagues from college hockey has placed him in a category all to himself. Selected by the Calgary Flames in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Gaudreau opted to play for Boston College instead, where he would receive the NCAA Player of the Year award two years in a row. Gaudreau entered the NHL in 2014 and, at just 5’9” and 150 pounds, the leftwinger’s stickhandling and instincts propelled him to the NHL All-Star Game. In April 2017, Gaudreau was named a finalist for the 2016-2017 NHL Lady Byng Memorial Trophy for sportsmanship, proving that the 23-year-old brings more to the game than just skill and scoring.
Art by Adam Glowienka
Patrik Laine, the solid rightwinger from Finland, was drafted by the Winnipeg Jets as the second overall pick in the 2016 NHL Draft. Laine is known for his powerful shooting, finesse, speed, and hockey IQ, which he has seamlessly transitioned to the NHL from his days in the Finnish Liiga. Laine and Matthews have deep respect for each other’s game and this friendly, young rivalry is sure to improve the quality of talent in the sport, as well as its entertainment value. Round one goes to Matthews with four more goals in 2016-2017, but this will only serve as inspiration for Laine to even the score next season.
Art by Adam Glowienka
Sean Monahan’s road to the NHL hasn’t been easy, but this Brampton-bred centre understands the value of resiliency. Beginning his junior career in 2010 with a deflating injury and ending it with a costly suspension in 2013, Monahan was nevertheless one of the OHL’s leading scorers in 2011-2012. The Calgary Flames drafted Monahan with the sixth overall pick in 2013 and with two consecutive seasons of 60-plus points and four straight seasons of 20-plus goals, Monahan has become a powerhouse for Calgary hockey and is crucial to the Flames’ effort to rebuild its young team.
Art by Adam Glowienka
Toronto Maple Leafs
Mitch Marner may not be the most dominant player on the ice but his speed and scrappiness make him yet another bright spot in the Leafs’ lineup. Marner was the number four draft pick in 2015, and, in his rookie season, he set the franchise record for most assists (42) in a season by a rookie. Born in Markham, Ontario, 19-year-old Marner grew up as a fan of the team that drafted him. An obvious hometown favourite, he adds depth as a creative and efficient centreman alongside Matthews. Marner may just be the right piece to complete the young duo that makes the Toronto Maple Leafs perennial contenders.
Photo courtesy of Aine Morris
Lawyer, Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC)
As a student, attorney Sunil Gurmukh claims he never felt the calling to practice any one area of law exclusively. Rather, it took Gurmukh a year after being summoned to the bar to chance upon his true vocation in the legal profession: human rights.
The catalyst? A 2010 complaint filed with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. Its plaintiff was a black youth, tasered multiple times by police due to the colour of his skin. The case soon landed on Gurmukh’s desk—then a fledgling newbie at the African Canadian Legal Clinic—where it struck an immediate chord.
Gurmukh agreed to represent the young man, later taking on a separate incident involving another black male who was put into the back of a police car at gunpoint. These events not only uncorked Gurmukh’s own inspired allegiance to the cause, they galvanized him into embarking on a clear-cut path to the important work he undertakes today.
“I was crushed by the pain felt by my first clients,” Gurmukh recalls. “Both were victims of racial profiling. But I was energized. I knew I wanted to fight for vulnerable and marginalized communities. And I wanted to stay in for as many rounds as possible.”
That he has. Since 2011, Gurmukh has acted as key counsel for the Ontario Human Rights Commission. The role puts him on the frontlines of OHRC’s campaign against police misconduct. It’s an ongoing battle, yet Gurmukh refuses to back down. An unflinching champion of the black community’s interests, Gurmukh regularly engages local advocacy groups in an attempt keep his ear to the beat—while also offering complimentary legal education to the racialized youth who require it. – CM
Photo courtesy of Jalani Morgan
BLACK LIVES MATTER TORONTO
Civil rights activist group
Three words: Black Lives Matter.
Having originated in the aftermath of George Zimmerman’s 2012 acquittal for the murder of Trayvon Martin, it’s a platform that has since caught fire in response to the virulent anti-black racism seen permeating our society at large: Black Lives Matter is now exploding from a domestic, African American call-to-action into a fully realized international activist movement.
The organization is active here in Canada, and after a short period of time, Toronto’s own Black Lives Matter chapter has found itself increasingly able to influence progress as part of the bigger picture on behalf of black liberation. Co-founded by Janaya Khan, Sandy Hudson, and other locals in 2014, BLMTO has powerfully carved its identity as an agent of change. They’ve organized highly publicized cultural showcases, crashed police board meetings, received audiences with the city’s power brokers, and shut down streets—in addition to establishing educational and legal resources in their crusade to resist persecution.
Although some of their methods have polarized opinions—like blocking Pride Toronto’s 2016 parade to demand cops be banned from the event, a tactic some observers believe blunted their credibility— one thing that is undeniable is their ability to spur dialogue and move the needle. BLMTO has no doubt broadened the Canadian conversation to address how blacks perceive being deprived of basic human rights. That’s important, because it’s our opinion that everyone deserves a voice.
AI-powered immigration app
At last count, the United Nations peg over 244 million migrants worldwide. Canada itself welcomes approximately 250,000 of them each year. So then why—with a global influx so vast—are incoming aliens typically left to rely on such limited resources as incomprehensive as online forums (and the like) to learn about the relocation process?
Enter Botler, a knowledge-sharing tool from Montreal’s Nonimo Technologies, designed to enable superior community dialogue for prospective international expatriates. The kicker? This pioneering, AI-powered communications app—founded by Amir Moravej—was built by a group of Canadian newcomers themselves, some of whom claim stints at tech giants Google and Facebook.
Having each experienced what it takes to go live permanently—and ultimately prosper—in a foreign country, their endgame with Botler is remarkably uncomplicated: to assist skilled immigrants in achieving a more informed, less problematic passage. Should the platform inspire its users to roll the dice and embark on that fresh beginning, well, mission accomplished.
PEACE BY CHOCOLATE
Death by Chocolate. Who doesn’t recognize the old colloquial descriptive term, playfully characterizing an indulgence of ground, roasted, and typically sweetened cacao seeds? Well, now try Peace by Chocolate on for size, a turn of phrase that doubles as more than just the name of Hadhad family patriarch Assam and son Tareq’s booming sweets business. That’s because Peace by Chocolate represents something far greater to this duo of Syrian refugees: a second chance.
For three decades, the elder Hadhad was a celebrated master chocolatier back home in Damascus. But in 2013, Syria’s ongoing civil war snatched everything away in the blink of an eye. It wasn’t until 2015, when his family of six was accepted to Canada — after three exacting years in a Lebanese refugee camp — that Hadhad was finally able to reclaim his livelihood.
Modestly setting up shop in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Hadhad’s handcrafted fair-trade chocolate offerings were quickly embraced by the local community.
An unexpected public endorsement from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau followed, instantly transforming Hadhad’s tiny operation into one of the country’s most buzzy confectionary enterprises. Chocolate aficionados from around the world were soon placing online orders in overwhelming volume, some even making their own pilgrimage to the small Maritime town for a taste. And as 2017 rolls on, Peace by Chocolate is actively expanding to meet global demand.
Few success stories taste this good. – CM
Photo by Brooke Wedlock
LEEN AL ZAIBAK
Founder, Syrian Canadian Foundation
How’s this for a résumé?
Barely into her 30s, Syrian-born humanitarian Leen Al Zaibak is already senior policy advisor at the Office of International Relations and Protocol for the Government of Ontario. She multitasks this role as both a Lifeline Syria board member, and founder of the Syrian Canadian Foundation—one group bringing privately sponsored refugees to Toronto, the other helping them settle in. Taking that commitment one step further, Al Zaibak also co-founded non-governmental organization Jusoor, which helps Syrian youth continue their schooling through scholarships at western universities, and she directs its Canadian partnerships and programs. In 2016, she won the RBC Top 25 Immigrant Award, and will be honoured the Pioneer for Change Women in Leadership Award by Skills for Change in mid-June, 2017.
To venerate Leen Al Zaibak—who maintains she “brought the rich culture and history of Syria” upon emigrating to Canada as a child—for this admirable list of accomplishments is to miss the point completely. It isn’t just about what Al Zaibak has done, but why she does it.
“That’s simple,” she says. “To give back all that Canada has given me, and that has made me into the person I am today. It is my moral and ethical duty as a human. Many people think of Canada as a cultural mosaic, but they would be surprised to learn that Syria is a mosaic too. It’s perhaps why Syrian newcomers are integrating so well into Canadian society.” – CM
Photo(s) © Edward Burtynsky, courtesy Metivier Gallery, Toronto / Flowers Gallery, London
Flying at about seven-hundred feet above a salt pan in India or a freeway in LA, Edward Burtynsky can read an industrial landscape as a Turkish grandmother can read the future from the sludgy dregs of a cup of coffee. A photograph by Burtynsky may be majestic with its spectacular capture of form, composition, and colour: a Miró-esque mess of canoes and wood slats and huts at a saw mill on the Niger Delta; a quarry in Barre, Vermont, that has a Midtown Manhattan feel to it; a shimmering, beautiful azure-blue sea, marred by oil-slicks. But what lies under all that beauty is a haunting realization that this is chaos we are viewing. All the more theatrical given that the photographs are printed in a large format, confronting the viewer with a full-force punch.
Burtynsky’s photography is, perhaps, our greatest ongoing document of how we change and impact our earth—and forecast of what will come in our near-future. A single step outdoors, at any time, in any location, provides enough evidence that there’s something going wrong with our planet: climates are turning topsy-turvy, air quality in larger cities is just-passable on a good day, ice caps are melting at an alarming rate. Explaining his unique place as a Canadian in this exploration, Burtynsky says, “In Canada, we are never far from places where one can see how the land looks without our presence. Around the globe, this has become a rare perspective.”
Fitting is that Burtynsky is now shooting more frequently from up high, furthering his God-like perspective and providing that catastrophe-is-near message with some needed legitimacy. And with that, Burtynsky’s photographs convey scale well for those who cannot imagine exactly how large, how destructive our environmental crisis is. And sometimes, appearances may be deceiving, as a camera can make a good liar. Nickel Tailings #34 and Nickel Tailings #35, a diptych that was an early success for the photographer, capture iron-ore runoff at a nickel mine in Sudbury, Ont. It seems as though the river carrying toxic, oxide-infused water—in a neon shade of Tang—is a kilometre-wide when, in reality, it was approximately three-feet across.
Burtynsky knows that it is a good thing there is beauty in madness: it draws the eye. – PC
Illustration by Valentyn Babiiets
Founder, Instant Pot
Want an impressive stat about Instant Pot? Since hitting the market in the summer of 2010, the multi-purpose pressure cooker—which also works as a steamer, rice cooker, sauté pan, food warmer, yogurt maker, and more—has sold over two million units worldwide, in addition to achieving an enviable 4.7 star ranking (out of five) on Amazon.
We promise this isn’t the start of a lengthy sales pitch… although did you know Instant Pot can reduce cooking times by upwards of 70 percent compared to similar devices? Okay, but seriously: we’ve relayed these figures because they constitute a worthy introduction to one of the most compelling Canadian success stories in recent memory. Instant Pot is a retail triumph that traces back to the 2008 financial crisis, which saw the global economy collapse almost completely in the wake of the US subprime mortgage crisis.
Back then, Instant Pot founder Robert Wang was a leading Nortel scientist based in Ottawa. But more often than not, he and a pair of Nortel colleagues found themselves toiling away to brainstorm a product that would have mass appeal to consumers during this arduous fiscal stretch. Sensing a public demand to eat well, inexpensively, and with limited preparation, Wang and co. rejected the telecommunications environment they were so ingrained in. In a bold step, they pivoted towards the creation of a new kitchen appliance.
The result? Instant Pot, which relies upon superior technology (including a microprocessor to perform intricate functions) and its devoted following of committed customers.
Although initially sold in physical stores, Wang’s appliance soon found itself on Amazon in December 2010. By January 2013, Instant Pot was being purchased in greater quantities than any competing stovetop pressure cooker—a trend that continues to hold strong today. This was done with little to no marketing or promotion. And on Amazon’s 2016 Prime Day—an annual sales event that offers exclusive deals to Amazon members—Instant Pot sold 215,000 units in a twenty-four hour period. Let that sink in.
Never one to rest on his laurels, Wang is adamant he will not be satisfied until there is an Instant Pot in as many North American homes as possible. To help in this effort, he intends to roll out two new models in 2017. But he isn’t neglecting foreign markets either. Instant Pot has an office in London and claims over 20 percent of the British electric cooker market. The company has also identified growth opportunities in China and throughout the rest of Europe.
The future sure looks bright, especially when you contemplate the bleaker yesteryear that Instant Pot was originally conceived in. – CM
Photos courtesy of Canada Goose
What started as a small, family-owned outerwear manufacturer called Metro Sportswear Ltd. is celebrating 60 years of success and growth. Known today as Canada Goose, the company famous for its pricey but reliably toasty parkas has become a global leader in the luxury outerwear market, and a favourite among explorers, celebrities, and consumers in 50 countries worldwide. In March, the company launched what remains the second largest IPO of 2017 thus far, and raised a whopping (but unsurprising) $34 million. According to Canada Goose, they’ll use the funding to expand into European markets (Germany, Italy, and Scandinavia), as well as broaden their product range to include more lightweight options.
A consistent growth history, widely-trusted functionality, and trend-setter status are some of the bigger factors behind the brand’s successful induction into the public market. The fur-lined hoods, while a target of some controversy from animal-rights activist groups, have long been a favourite among athletes, professionals, and the celebrity set, solidifying uniform status everywhere from movie sets to research facilities in Antarctica.
A ‘made in Canada’ commitment is something that Dani Reiss, the company’s CEO, believes is the right thing to do. “When other companies moved production overseas to chase better margins, we took a big risk and told the world that ‘made in Canada’ was going to work,” he says. The strategy meant expanding production facilities here in Canada, and investing in in-house training programs for workers. The company opened global headquarters in Toronto in 2014—a 96,000 square-foot facility—and expanded its Winnipeg warehouse, creating more than 200 new manufacturing jobs, among others in management and other areas. Currently, the company employs six percent of Canada’s cut and sew labour industry, which Minister of Finance Joe Oliver notes will benefit the entire country. “We’re proud of the new jobs we’ve created, and to help spread the brand of Canada around the world,” says Reiss. It’s a contribution that will inevitably benefit Canada’s luxury goods export market as a whole, as the “made in Canada” label grows a global reputation for quality and excellence—especially when it comes to cold weather gear. After all, who knows snow and sub-zero temps better than Canadians? – JH
Photos courtesy of BITE Beauty
Canadian-born cosmetics brand BITE Beauty has carved itself a prominent spot in the beauty industry since its 2011 beginnings, when a razor-sharp focus on everything lips gave it an edge over its competition, and helped create a cult-like following.
In addition to covering all the bases (lipstick, gloss, polishing scrubs, masks, and, most recently, lip liner), BITE stands out for its food-grade ingredient list and safe-enough-to-eat formulas. The brand was also on the cusp of the industry’s cosmeceutical craze, where brands incorporated active ingredients with long-term benefits. BITE was the first lipstick brand to infuse its formula with resveratrol, a powerful grape-derived antioxidant found in red wine. The result was a lipstick with beauty benefits that continue after each application.
BITE Beauty’s founder, Susanne Langmuir, created the line when her own search for natural products left her disappointed. The natural and organic beauty market simply didn’t offer products with the quality, variety, or impact she wanted. Langmuir funded the three-product line with a new small business grant, and then presented it to Sephora. This landed Langmuir a swift and supportive partnership that would see BITE Beauty’s signature products (all hand-made in a Toronto lab) sold exclusively at the beauty chain’s stores across North America and online.
In 2012, BITE Beauty introduced its first Lip Lab in Soho, New York, which demystified the lipstick creation process and let customers mix and blend their own custom shades with the help of experts. The Lip Lab was social media candy and acted as a catalyst for brand growth.
In 2014, LVMH subsidiary KENDO Holdings Inc. (an incubator with a mandate to “create, acquire, and collaborate with global beauty powerhouses”) purchased a majority share in the company, making it the second acquisition for KENDO thus far, and the only Canadian company to have been picked up by a subsidiary under the LVMH umbrella.
“KENDO was the perfect alignment for the brand,” says Langmuir, who still runs the company from its Toronto lab. “The partnership allowed us to further expand our presence in the prestige market,” she explains, adding that with Kendo’s support, BITE was able to launch its popular Amuse Bouche lipstick line in 2016 (“Our best-selling formula that topped the lipstick category at Sephora when it launched”) as well as opening three additional Lip Labs in Toronto, San Jose, and San Francisco.
With Kendo’s support, the brand has been able to create more of the products beloved by its fans. Though the new support has made it possible for the brand to expand, it will stick to its roots with small-batch production in a Toronto R&D lab. Everything is produced in-house, and that shorter lead-time allows BITE to create products based on demand. “That’s the crystal ball,” says Langmuir. We’re excited to see how the Canadian brand’s small-batch mentality will influence the bigger players now that LVMH is watching. – JH
Jordanian-born Canadian artist, photographer, and fashion designer Rad Hourani put Canada on the map in the global fashion arena back in 2013 when he became the first Canadian designer invited by the Federation Syndicale de la Haute Couture to show at Paris Couture Week. He also happens to be the only couturier to date to present an entirely unisex collection at the exclusive week-long event. No big deal.
Androgyny has long been a recurring theme in the fashion world with designers making statements sending men down the runway in skirts à la Jean Paul Gaultier in the 80s, or Yohji Yamamoto’s ultra-masculine women’s collections. But where other designers blur the boundaries of gender and raise questions of who should be allowed to wear what, Hourani’s aim—and what inspired his path from the start—is to tear down the gender binary altogether. He believes that gender, like age, nationality, religion, and even time are constructs created by humankind; imposed on us from the day we are born, but inherently nonexistent. This realization, and a painstaking personal search for clothing he felt comfortable in, led the young designer to Paris, at the age of 23, to spend a year studying the human body in order to create a completely genderless line of clothing two years later in 2007.
While Hourani rejected the gender-based limitations and categorization imposed on society by fashion, he did not deny the differences between a male and female body. In order to create fashion that would exist outside the limitations without extinguishing these differences, Hourani used computers to meticulously compare and understand them. He used his findings to highlight the similarities between a man and woman’s body, and used this as a basis for his line by creating garments that would flatter these similarities without obscuring their differences. His unique pieces give wearers options with flexible pieces that are genderless at their core, but that can be worn in a variety of ways—belted, open or done up, tucked or untucked—to let the wearer express a more masculine or feminine shape. Hourani’s ready-to-wear line is currently sold in retailers around the globe, as well as on his website where each garment is modelled twice, by both a male and female model, showing the versatility of each piece.
Hourani’s vision couldn’t have come at a better time, as 2017 continues to shine a spotlight on topics of gender fluidity, equality, expression, and expectations. Other Canadian designers, like 2016’s LVMH Prize winner Vejas Kruszewski, and Toronto-based Pedram Karimi, are also laying the groundwork for a more gender-fluid fashion future—or, at least, a future with fewer limitations—through unisex collections that model what many hope is not a trend, but a permanent shift in the way gender is experienced, perceived, and expressed. – JH
Illustration by Dale Crosby Close
CANADA’S NATIONAL PARKS
Much like its people, Canada’s geography is beautifully diverse and filled with a colourful spectrum of varying landscapes and climates. Our nation spans sun-kissed coastlines, ice-capped Rocky giants, rolling flatlands, and everything in-between. Fortunately for us, ecological preservation and appreciation have become ingrained in Canada’s DNA by way of our many national parks and national park reserves (46 to be exact). In celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary, Parks Canada has created the 2017 Discovery Pass to allow free entry into any of our country’s national parks, marine conservation areas, and historic sites. Here are a few of our favourites:
GWAII HAANAS NATIONAL PARK RESERVE
Located 130 kilometers off the BC coast at the southern tip of Haida Gwaii (“Islands of the Haida people”), Gwaii Haanas epitomizes the lush beauty and diverse bounty of the Canadian West Coast. While rugged mountains and weathered Haida poles jut from the mossy ground, salmon spawning streams meander their way throughout the diverse terrain as humpback whales and dolphins play in the nearby ocean. Accessible only by sea kayak, boat, or floatplane, this ancient site offers a remote and majestic solution for the adventurer looking to unplug and get in touch with nature.
BANFF NATIONAL PARK
Nestled in the heart of the Canadian Rockies, Banff National Park was established in 1885 and will forever own bragging rights as Canada’s oldest national park. Encompassing an area that includes frozen glaciers, emerald lakes, and mountainous giants, it’s hardly a surprise that visitors from around the world flock to Banff to take in the sights. In fact, Banff remains one of the most visited national parks in North America, attracting more than three million tourists a year who engage in a range of activities that include skiing, hiking, camping, climbing, and getting a good soak in the Upper Hot Springs.
WAPUSK NATIONAL PARK
Cree for “white bear,” Wapusk is one of the best places in the world to see a polar bear in its natural habitat (along with its other northern comrades, which include caribou, arctic foxes, wolves, and wolverines). Unescorted visits aren’t permitted for the remote area, which has no roads or trails leading into it, but with the guidance of a licensed local operator, you’ll be able to witness the yearly polar bear congregation, which sees about 1,000 of the majestic animals gather with the arrival of new ice in late-October. It’s a truly unforgettable experience.
AUYUITTUQ NATIONAL PARK
With its cavernous valleys and transcendent mountain range, the sweeping vistas of Auyuittuq (pronounced ‘ow-you-we-took’) National Park are a vision straight out of Game of Thrones. While no dragons exist here, the Inuit have long called the area home, alongside a host of wild animals that include peregrine falcons, beluga whales, Arctic foxes, and more. With summits that have names like ‘Thor Peak’ and ‘Mount Asgard’, hikers, skiers, and adventurers alike are sure to be met with a rush of adrenaline unlike any other.
BRUCE PENINSULA NATIONAL PARK
A short trip for Toronto’s concrete dwellers looking for an escape, the Bruce Peninsula National Park offers a tranquil respite from the big city, with its own tower-like boulders and enchanting grottos. Located on the Niagara Escarpment, the park’s 156-square-kilometre expanse includes countless Instagram-worthy vistas that have visitors flocking as temperatures get warmer. Hiking and swimming are musts if you plan on taking full advantage of the landscape and, for the more adventurous types, try your hand at bouldering.
FUNDY NATIONAL PARK
Known for the world’s highest tides, Fundy National Park offers visitors the opportunity to explore the rich landscape of the Canadian East Coast. At low tide, the Atlantic waters retreat to reveal the ocean floor where curious minds can explore various sea creatures until the tide makes its return. Inland, powerful waterfalls, crystal lakes, and lush hiking trails make this Eden a shining gem in the vast ecological repertoire that our nation is comprised of. For a truly unique experience, ditch the tent and rent a yurt if you plan on staying the night.
Canada may only be celebrating it’s 150th anniversary this year, but within a relatively short amount of time, our colourful nation has built up a robust portfolio of cultural institutions that celebrate the best that Canada has to offer. Raise a glass to these inspiring (and architecturally beautiful) museums that are preserving history, opening minds, and reflecting the diversity of our big, beautiful country. – RY
Photos courtesy of Aga Khan Museum
AGA KHAN MUSEUM
Fumihiko Maki, an award-winning architect, drew inspiration from light when he designed the pristine and sure-to-be-iconic structure of Toronto’s Aga Khan Museum. In a time of Islamophobic tensions around the world, the museum’s mandate is important: “to foster a greater understanding and appreciation of the contribution that Muslim civilizations have made to world heritage.” Here, you’ll be able to experience the work of important artists, both classic and contemporary, and see the impact that they’ve made across the world.
Photos courtesy of Studio Bell
STUDIO BELL, THE NATIONAL MUSIC CENTRE (NMC)
What if visiting a museum was as exciting as going to a music festival? In a stunning collaboration between Bell and NMC, Studio Bell aims to celebrate and educate visitors on Canada’s colourful music history. Equal parts a museum and experiential space, the building offers a myriad of features that include recording studios, sound labs, broadcast facilities, and a 300-seat recital hall.
Photos courtesy of Canadian Museum for Human Rights
CANADIAN MUSEUM FOR HUMAN RIGHTS (CMHR)
A glass monolith jutting from the Winnipeg skyline, the CMHR aims to be a beacon of hope by honouring the history of human rights and its evolution into the future. Their mandate is to open minds and encourage meaningful dialogue through a uniquely Canadian perspective. Sitting on ancestral Indigenous land, visitors can explore various galleries and exhibitions within the CMHR and walk out feeling empowered to create change.
Photos courtesy of Audain Art Museum
AUDAIN ART MUSEUM
Whistler, British Columbia
British Columbia is known for its ecological splendour. Equally so, the province has made significant contributions to the creative community with talents that were grown and nurtured there. Such was the vision behind the creation of Whistler’s Audain Art Museum: to honour and showcase British Columbia’s artistic masters. Housed within this architecturally-stunning building you’ll find a range of works that span from centuries-old Northwest Coast masks to the iconic paintings of Emily Carr.
Illustration by Valentyn Babiies
Let’s talk about Margaret Atwood. At seventy-seven years young, Atwood has published fifteen novels, ten short story collections, sixteen poetry collections, as well as many e-books, children’s books, non-fiction books, literary essays, op-eds, and a graphic novel—and, thankfully, she’s showing no signs of stopping. And then there’s the author’s countless awards, including a Man Booker, as well as her interest in technology: she invented the LongPen long-distance signature apparatus, contributes to social-reading website WattPad, and tweets with the enthusiasm of a young millennial.
With her signature curly hair and piercing blue eyes, one could easily mistake Atwood for a corner-store psychic if she was less recognizable. But she denies having any prophetic ability. That said, The Handmaid’s Tale, her 1985 dystopian novel about a country where women are divided into wives, housekeepers, and child-bearers (all property of men), gives good reason to believe she is pulling a fast one on us. Atwood maintains that when writing The Handmaid’s Tale, she didn’t create that world, she was reflecting a world which already existed. It is a strange, prescient warning of what may become in President Trump’s America, where women are currently feeling as though they are losing agency over their own bodies. And, as with George Orwell’s 1984, The Handmaid’s Tale is experiencing a revival, with sales up two-hundred percent, compared with last year (thanks to a TV adaptation). Readers are trying to stay one step ahead and who better to listen to than Atwood?
Photo courtesy of Ryan Van Der Hout
Kent Monkman has a way with getting himself heard. The Toronto-based Cree artist opened a new exhibit earlier this year, titled Shame and Prejudice: A Story of Resilience, just in time for Canada’s sesquicentennial celebrations. The Daddies, a substantial painting which serves as the centrepiece for the cross-country travelling show, is Monkman doing what he does best: re-painting history—because history was written (as well as painted) by the victors, leaving out other stories and perspectives. Another example features a re-working of Canadian painter Robert Harris’s The Fathers of Confederation, a portrait of the attendees at the Charlotteville Conference of 1864 (read: grim-faced, stuffy white men gathered around a room as they discuss Canadian Confederation). Monkman’s version is a near carbon copy of the original, save for one detail. Sitting on a stool in the forefront—which was unoccupied in Harris’ painting—is Miss Chief Eagle Testickle (Monkman’s drag alter ego) facing the founding fathers naked, save for the strappy, sexy stilettos on his feet, sitting on a Hudson’s Bay striped blanket. “There is a Canadian myth about itself that doesn’t include what happened to Indigenous people,” Monkman once said. And here he is, fixing that wrong through his distinct, cheeky fashion by inserting himself (as well as all Aboriginals) into an important moment of our country’s history. Monkman is a radical of the smart, sneaky sort, working within the system so that he can completely subvert it while spreading his message out loud. – PC
Canada is in the midst of a culinary renaissance. And as any explosive food scene evolves, one certainty remains inevitable: the emergence of a coexisting ‘power chef/restaurateur’ culture. It’s a movement which routinely sees buzzworthy restaurateur after restaurateur acquire the Midas Touch. Where, for better or worse, every project they subsequently put their hands on turns to gold.
Photo courtesy of Kayla Rocca
GRANT VAN GAMEREN
Would you dare argue Toronto hasn’t fallen under the spell of this phenomenon? In increasing succession, the city is being overtaken by a dizzying array of cooks who’ve got enterprise on the agenda. They include Rob Gentile (Buca), Anthony Rose (Rose & Sons, Bar Begonia, Fat Pasha, Big Crow), Brandon Olsen (La Banane, CxBo) and Jen Agg (The Black Hoof, Rhum Corner, Grey Gardens), to single out just a few.
Cultivating a mini-empire in what seems like the blink of an eye is an impressive feat, although managing to stay a game-changer with each consecutive effort poses a whole new challenge. On that front, the aforementioned list of names can claim success. As may one of their contemporaries, Grant van Gameren, who we deem a remarkable example.
Arguably no chef in Toronto is more prolific, or reveals as great a deal of variety. At Bar Isabel and Bar Raval, the tattooed thirty-something elevated Spanish cuisine to unparalleled heights. For PrettyUgly, Harry’s, and El Rey—all launched in 2016 alone—he expanded the portfolio with a cocktail lounge, old-school diner, and mezcal bar, respectively. And in his next undertaking, van Gameren intends to unveil an Eastern European pierogi and beer hall.
Yes, attaching oneself to this many endeavours in short order can prove a death knell for some. That said, we’re confident Grant van Gameren’s career trajectory will remain as ahead of the curve and impossible to resist as the very dishes he’s been slingin’ from day one. – CM
Photo courtesy of Janet Zuccarini
If we’re going to identify Toronto as a town mad about food—where an ever-expanding roster of culinary titans remain fast fixated on jumping aboard the next craze, and are prone to fizzling-out every bit as briskly—then credit must be given to its pillars: the longtime Toronto restaurateurs that made their bones perfecting a single cuisine, and committed themselves to near-legendary status.
This is Janet Zuccarini in a nutshell, who opened Yorkville institution Trattoria Nervosa in 1996. For two decades, she’s made use of a sharp business acuity to keep Nervosa at the top of the city’s competitive Italian dining field. In recent years, Zuccarini has gone on to build up her brand of hyper-local, traditional Italian—both at Gusto 101 and its upcoming byproduct, Gusto 501. And with the launch of acclaimed Felix Trattoria in Los Angeles, this stalwart of the Toronto food circuit has even taken her inaugural swing at cracking the American market.
In the interest of full disclosure, the entrepreneurial Zuccarini has indeed branched out beyond just Italian. At Pai and Chubby’s, she’s got Northern Thai and Jamaican on the menu. Plus, as a frequent Top Chef Canada judge ruling a powerhouse food consortium soon to number 500 employees, there’s no sense denying that Zuccarini is crossing over into tycoon territory… presuming she hasn’t already.
But if the success of Janet Zuccarini is indicative of anything, it’s that some Toronto restaurateurs would be well-served spurning the temptation to be known as the impresario that repeatedly did every trend first, and instead focus on gaining recognition as the one who did it best. – CM
Photo courtesy of Dong Kim
Edmonton probably isn’t the first place that comes to mind when you think of foodie destinations in Canada, especially not Italian food. But Daniel Costa is here to change that. The face of Edmonton’s blossoming food scene, Costa is owner and head chef of local haunts Corso 32, Bar Bricco, and Uccellino. You can credit Costa as the catalyst to Oil City’s recent culinary revival, cementing his way to celebrity chef status.
Ever the ambassador of simple Italian food (Costa is of Italian heritage and established his love for Italian cooking while spending time in Italy), quality ingredients paired with careful preparation is the common thread that runs through each of his restaurants.
Corso 32, Costa’s much-hyped first project, which opened back in 2010, blew up instantly (even seven years later, there are queues to get in), and given its limited space, the city was left begging for more. In his most recent venture (and third business, after spuntini-inspired eatery, Bar Bricco), Costa opened Uccellino in 2016, a two-floor, 80-person restaurant that’s all heart and no fuss. The masses go gaga over four-ingredient dishes, like homemade tagliatelle with butter, sage, and Parmigiano.
Such a large-scale third venture leaves no margin for error, especially when people expect so much. One year in, and Costa’s persistence, tenacity, and sheer devotion to Italian techniques is the essence of Uccellino. But it’s not like we expect anything less. – CG
Photo courtesy of Hamid Attie
The front of house is getting a lot more attention in the restaurant world. After all, it’s part of the formula that creates a successful restaurant: engaging interior design, a creative chef, and seasoned host (with a great smile to boot).
Restaurateur Paul Grunberg is the latter—and then some. His CV includes spearheading the smooth running of some of Vancouver’s hottest spots: Lumière, Chambar, Market, and Bao Bei. His first foray into ownership is the Gastown treasure L’Abattoir, open since 2010, and housed in Vancouver’s first jail (how’s that for a story?) The restaurant features French-inspired fare made with local ingredients; it’s a testament to the charmed experience Grunberg creates inside his restaurants.
In 2015, Grunberg and partners Craig Stanghetta and Mark Perrier opened Savio Volpe in East Vancouver’s Fraserhood, which is known today as the city’s hub for food enthusiasts. It’s a charming Italian family restaurant that doesn’t feel like a family restaurant. Savio Volpe’s gigantic, 12-foot-tall entrance is a passage into a whole other world: one where portraits of female saints gaze down at diners, where friends bond over the ecstasy of fluffy, hand-made pastas and tender, fire-grilled veal. And as with every restaurant that Grunberg touches, diners come for the food and stay for the experience, returning time after time to refill their bellies and create new memories.
Savio Volpe, as advertised, is supposed to be a light-hearted, rustic Italian osteria with graceful yet unpretentious food. Thanks to Grunberg, it’s so much more. – CG
BIG LEAGUES IN BRAMPTON
There’s something in Brampton’s water. How else can you explain the explosion of talent that has come out of the Ontario city? And it’s not in one particular area, either. Those that have risen to the top have summited Billboard rankings, won NBA championships, and written best-selling books. – CM
Alessia Cara’s new album, Know It All, comes out Nov. 13
Photo by Meredith Truax
Justin Bieber. Carly Rae Jepsen. Shawn Mendes.
The list of Canadian singer-songwriters that social media has helped skyrocket from relative obscurity to superstardom is impressive — and one you can confidently add Brampton-born Alessia Cara to.
Currently a multi-platinum vocalist at just 20 years of age, the gifted songstress was an unheralded 13-year-old when she originally launched her page on YouTube. Millions upon millions of views later, what Cara has attained since is nothing short of remarkable.
To date, she’s released a bestselling album (Know-It-All), cracked the highest levels of the Billboard Hot 100, topped North American pop radio charts, taken home multiple awards—including Junos for Breakthrough Artist of the Year in 2015 and Pop Album of the Year in 2017—and performed on both The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and Saturday Night Live.
It’s a budding résumé that doesn’t just rival any of the aforementioned global acts, but signifies an artist that, so far, looks to have unlimited upside. With a summer chock-full of headline gigs in the pipeline, plus more new music presumably on the way, who are we to argue?
Photo courtesy of NBAE/Getty Images
Basketball player, Cleveland Cavaliers
If you’ve been Keeping up with the Kardashians—and thanks to the family’s ubiquitous tabloid presence, you don’t really have much choice—then you will find Tristan Thompson instantly recognizable. After all, Thompson’s highly publicized romance with Khloé (the youngest sister of the Kardashian clan) has transformed the NBA player into a fixture of their long-running reality series.
That said, we prefer to highlight the Brampton, Ont. native’s exploits on the court, not off.
Picked fourth overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2011, Thompson was once the highest drafted Canadian-born player in NBA history. The college standout fulfilled his early promise, emerging as one of the NBA’s best rebounders on the offensive glass. So valuable was Thompson perceived to be, the Cavaliers didn’t hesitate re-signing him in 2015 to a five-year, $82-million contract.
This proved a worthy gamble. The following season, Thompson and LeBron James led the Cavs to their very first NBA championship. And by the end of 2016, he became the franchise’s first player to compete in 400 consecutive regular-season games.
Simply put, Tristan Thompson has developed into a bonafide star. Then again, that should come as little surprise.
Portrait courtesy of Baljit Singh
You’d be forgiven for presuming that such weighty themes as love and loss, violence and abuse, pain and heartache, and femininity could only be confronted in the verses of a more tenured poet—a bard whose output bears the years, mileage, and scars of a long, oft-onerous existence.
But for them to be expressed in compositions so elegant with such worldliness and conviction by an author barely in her twenties… Well, that’s practically unheard of, right? Now what if we told you the very anthology which bore this balladry—titled milk and honey—was not only said author’s debut effort, but a collection whose grassroots success ushered it to the top of the vaunted New York Times bestseller list?
This is the amazing story of Canadian Rupi Kaur, who has turned long-established preconceptions about what a poet can embody—and when—on their head. Born in Punjab, India, she immigrated with her family to Canada as a four-year old. They settled in Brampton, Ontario, where Kaur learned to draw and paint as a way to overcome language barriers. This gave way to a passion for writing and performing, which she has expertly translated into her current triumphs.
Kaur’s most impressive feat? It may not be the influence she’s acquired, or even the million plus copies of milk and honey sold. No, perhaps her greatest achievement is demonstrating that maturity need not be dictated merely by age or life experience. Maybe, just maybe, Kaur’s proven that maturity can be influenced by one’s sensibilities instead.
THE CANADIAN INVASION
In Tinseltown, Canadians have certainly made their presence known, and the success that our homegrown thespians and film industry members have achieved only seems to be getting bigger and better with every passing year. From domestically produced TV shows to Hollywood blockbusters, we may just be heading into the era of the Canadian invasion. Here are a few names that are making waves and doing Canada proud. – PC
Photo courtesy of Bell Media
Canadian actresses have it hard. It took Tatiana Maslany portraying eight characters in season four of Space TV’s Orphan Black to become the first Canadian woman to win an Emmy in the category of Best Lead Actress in a Drama Series. Orphan Black is an anomaly in television. It is shot, produced, and unapologetically set in Toronto (some scenes take place in Scarborough, and the C.N. Tower and the city’s skyline are consistently shown), without being achingly Canadian—as many CanCon television shows are. Yet the acclaimed, semi-cultish sci-fi series has a devoted audience all over English speaking countries, airing in the UK, US, Australia, and Ireland. Maslany is proving that an actress may be Canadian, and successful, without hopping over to the US and pretending to be an American character in an American series—which are usually shot in Toronto or Vancouver, anyway.
It may seem as though Quebec-born director Denis Villeneuve sprang out from nowhere with his first blockbuster, Enemy (2013), which was followed shortly by the equally buzzy Prisoners that same year, and then the Oscar-nominated Arrival in 2016. But Villeneuve was working hard on his craft, for twenty years, incubating at a warm temperature in la belle province making music videos, short films, and a few features. It was the perfect breeding ground for the director: by building his career Quebec-outward, he was able to experiment and develop artistically in an environment with an audience of francophones only—a relatively small number—while being subsidized with substantial grants through the provincial government. Villeneuve knew he never wished to leave the comfort of the Canadian film system, but once Polytechnique (in 2009) and Incendies (in 2010) were released, along came attention, accolades, an Oscar nomination, and bigger opportunities. And now, Villeneuve is ready to release Blade Runner 2049, a new film in the franchise—the first of which inspired him as a child to become a director.
Photo courtesy of Dale Robinette/Lionsgate
“Hey girl.” Need we say more? No, but we will. Canada’s hottest export had a good year in 2016, starring in everyone’s favourite Oscar Best Picture loser, La La Land. But then every year has been a good year since Gosling debuted on television, in 1993, on Disney Channel’s Mickey Mouse Club.
He has cornflower-blue eyes that twinkle brighter than any star in a clear night sky. He has perfect side-parted hair—not too slick, not too tousled. He has that perpetual, so-seductive grin. He is married, but we never seem to remember that. He always stars in the right roles in the right movies. He may break your heart, but only when he’s acting as a bad guy (but no worries, he’ll stitch it back together.) And on top of everything, Gosling is forever filled with a heartland-sweetness, proving you can take the boy out of London, Ontario, but you can’t take the London, Ontario, out of the boy.
THE ORDER OF CANADA
Canada’s highest civilian honour
This year marks the 150th anniversary of Canada’s confederation. But this year also celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Order of Canada, one of the country’s highest civilian honours awarded to citizens whose life work in any field has contributed to the wellbeing of the country, and to the betterment of its citizens, its future, and the world as a whole.
The Order of Canada, which was proposed by former prime minister Lester B. Pearson and approved by sovereign Queen Elizabeth II, was implemented July 1, 1967, as a show of appreciation to these exemplary citizens. It’s also an excellent way to highlight the great things our country has done and continues to do—a reminder of our progress, good will, and talent.
Eligibility is open to any Canadian citizen who has made an exceptional contribution in their field, with the exception of federal and provincial politicians or judges while they’re in office. Any person or organization can nominate anyone they deem worthy, resulting in between 600 and 800 annual submissions to the Order’s designated advisory council. Honourees, if selected, are formally inducted by Canada’s Governor General on behalf of the sovereign at a ceremony held twice annually at Ottawa’s Rideau Hall. Honourees are awarded a badge of honour, and are thereafter eligible to petition for a coat of arms and entitled to designated post-nominal initials.
Honours are awarded by ranking, beginning with Companion (CC) of the Order of Canada, the highest and most limited degree of merit (only 15 honourees may be inducted each year, up to a maximum of 65 living Companions at one time), followed by Officer (OC) and Member (CM). The degree awarded reflects the reach and level of service, with the title of Companion denoting achievement on a national and global level. Meanwhile, the title of Officer is a token of efforts that benefit Canadians on a national level, and Member indicates exceptional acts benefitting the country on a local or regional level.
In ultra-Canadian fashion, honourary appointments at any of the three levels are open to non-citizens, though the a five-honourary-inductees-per-year limit is often left unmet. Notable honourary members are Nelson Mandela, who was invested in 1998, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother in 2000, and world-renowned architect Frank Gehry in 2003. Each of these members received a Companion-level standing. The “honourary” prefix, in Gehry’s case, was dropped as he became a Canadian citizen prior to his investment ceremony.
Since the Order of Canada is designed to recognize achievements of benefit beyond oneself, there has been some flak throughout the years when the agenda pursued by an inductee has been controversial in nature. Such was the case with Henry Morgentaler, a physician and pro-choice advocate who fought hard for women’s reproductive rights, battling constitutional laws, opening clinics in his home province of Quebec to much protest, and risking his personal safety and even his life to do so. His appointment to the Order of Canada happened in 2008, and while many felt the honour was outrageously past due, others threatened to renounce their titles. Ultimately, the decision was made that regardless of people’s stance on the topic of abortion, Morgentaler’s selfless act in fighting for women’s health was considered more than deserving. He received Member status.
As 2017 is a particularly important year in the history of Canada, Governor General David Johnston announced the appointment of 100 honourees, including three Companions, 22 Officers, and 75 Members who will all be invited to this year’s ceremony to accept their well-deserved insignias at Rideau Hall. The three insignias, which were designed by flight sergeant of the Royal Canadian Air Force Bruce Beatty, take the form of a six-pointed snowflake. Each ranking has its own distinctive features, all bearing an encrusted maple leaf and the Order of Canada’s Latin motto, which translates to “they desire a better country.” And the snowflake? On a particularly Canadian winter day, Beatty realized the falling snowflakes and the sparkling blanket of snow were all-too-perfectly symbolic of what the insignias were meant to say: each individual snowflake is unique and together they create something beautiful. Not to mention that they represent the Canadian climate pretty perfectly. In 1990, Beatty was made a Member of the Order of Canada for excellence in design, and his work on the insignias.
In the 50 years since its beginning, the Order of Canada has recognized nearly 7,000 Canadians for their achievements—each one being a step towards creating a better, richer life for its citizens and the world. Just imagine where Canada will be in the next 50 years. – JH