No need for batteries when teen tinkerer Ann Makosinski is nearby. At only 15 years old, the scientist built a flashlight that ran on body heat, and which won Google’s Science Fair in 2013. Her energy-efficient innovations nabbed her a spot on Time’s 30 People Under 30, a $50,000 grant from Shell, two appearances on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” multiple TED Talks and dozens of international awards. Now an 18-year-old student at the University of British Columbia, her latest achievement is a cellphone-charging travel mug. (Not on the market, but definitely on our radar.)
If Bradley Friesen wants to take you out for a ride, just say yes. When this helicopter pilot flies over British Columbia, the results are stunning panoramic photographs of secluded landscapes, where lone figure skaters roam and hockey players pass the puck on glacial ice ponds. He was selected by Molson Canadian to visit where the most Canadian photo ever was taken. Friesen clearly has a knack for viral fame: his ALS challenge, bachelor pad, and even his dog have all won the Internet’s approval.
When Bruce Moncur’s brain was exposed by a piece of shrapnel in Afghanistan in 2006, the former soldier made his peace with God and silently said goodbye to his family at home. He was 22. After two brain surgeries and a long bout of rehab, Moncur was discharged, and a new battle for fair compensation as an injured veteran began. The Windsor, Ont., native was the subject of an award-winning HuffPost Canada feature and has been one of our politics bloggers since 2013. He told his story in the post, “Canada, I Fought For You And You Let Me Down,” and has penned thoughtful critiques of the Canadian military, notably in “Why No One Should Join The Canadian Forces”.
When Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price won four trophies at the NHL Awards last year, he decided to pay it forward. Price sent a message to indigenous youth in an acceptance speech for the Vezina Trophy, telling them to be proud of their heritage and leaders in their communities. The Olympic gold medallist grew up on a reserve near Williams Lake, B.C., and has not forgotten his roots, making substantial donations to the community.
As an astronaut, Chris Hadfield reached for the stars. As a global citizen, he saw the breath-taking beauty of the blue-and-green spinning sphere we call home. Hadfield became the Internet’s favourite singing spaceman when he posted his rendition of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” online in 2013. He lit up social media with his adventures aboard the International Space Station, sharing incredibly detailed photos of Earth and anti-gravity shenanigans. Now retired as an astronaut, he’s still rocking our world with inspiring talks and an active Twitter presence.
Craig and Marc Kielburger
In “If I Were Prime Minister…,” Green Party Leader Elizabeth May laid it all out in her first blog for HuffPost Canada on our very first day back in May 2011. Since then, the MP has tirelessly pushed for climate change solutions, and as a HuffPost blogger offers up critiques of the political arena and its players. Dubbed one of the world’s most influential women by the U.S. magazine Newsweek in 2010, the Sidney, B.C. resident has become one Canada’s most active politicians on social media, and earned major props for her debating skills in the 2015 federal election.
An eating disorder as a teen motivated a Vancouver-based Pilates instructor to start a beauty revolution. Now in her 20s, Erin Treloar founded Raw Beauty Talks to open up honest conversations about women’s appearances by posting unfiltered and unretouched photos of women and girls. Her photo series featured various Canadian women, among them Try singer Colbie Caillat, model Ashley Diana Morris, and “Being Erica” actress Erin Karpluk, all wearing no makeup. Treloar’s work is part of a larger trend on social media and in the beauty industry for celebrating diversity and how women look naturally.
Glen Canning says his daughter’s name, Rehtaeh Parsons, purposefully and fearlessly. When Rehtaeh died following a suicide attempt in 2013, her family kept her story alive and her name on people’s minds. With his heartbreaking blogs: “Rehtaeh Parsons Was My Daughter” and “Read Rehtaeh’s Story And Tell Me She Wasn’t Raped,” Canning laid bare what he has experienced. By speaking out, he forces the public to address the real consequences that sexual assault, rape culture and online bullying can have on its victims, and did have on Rehtaeh.
Amid a foster care crisis for First Nations children, a northern Manitoba reserve proposed an alternative: remove parents, not kids. When child services come to many rural First Nations, the children are uprooted from their communities and sent south to city life in Winnipeg. Instead, Heidi Cook, a councillor from Misipawistik Cree Nation in Manitoba, introduced a program by which the parents leave, and a care worker moves in with the children. Cook says the method may not be perfect for everyone but for them, it recognizes intergenerational trauma and puts families on a path towards healing.
Ian Campeau (A Tribe Called Red)
She stood up to Donald Trump before it was cool. Vancouver’s Jenna Talackova made history in 2012 when she became Miss Universe Canada’s first transgender contestant, daring to challenge the contest, owned at the time by Trump, for disqualifying her on the grounds that it accepted only “naturally born women.” Talackova, who is a trans woman of Dutch and indigenous descent, convinced Miss Universe organizers to reverse the ruling and went on to win the title of Miss Congeniality. One reality show and countless interviews later, she’s now a model for beauty brand Lionesse.
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Justin Trudeau and Sophie Grégoire Trudeau
Politician and Activist
When Halifax native Lauren Messervey took oglers of Canada’s prime minister to task in her HuffPost blog, “Objectifying Trudeau is not OK,” readers responded and then some. Since then, she’s tackled the Trudeau family’s “Nannygate” controversy, and opened up about her own sexual assault in the wake of the Jian Ghomeshi verdict. As a freelance writer now based in Toronto, Messervey’s HuffPost commentary includes biting quips and candour on every political topic, from Donald Trump to Justin Trudeau, feminist issues, and racial diversity in Hollywood.
The school system isn't perfect, and Lizanne Foster is one teacher willing to talk openly about it. The Surrey, B.C., teacher issued an open letter titled, “Dear Students: An Apology From A Teacher,” calling out the failures of the education system. Not only did it resonate in Canada, the blog was widely shared in the United States and led to an invitation from Italy’s education minister to speak at a conference there. Foster grew up in an apartheid-era South Africa, a personal experience that frames her passion in encouraging students to question things and helping them believe they matter.
Raheel Raza is a Muslim who wants you to know where she stands, regardless of consequences. Raza performed Canada’s first women-led, mixed Muslim prayers in 2013 — and received death threats because of her efforts. The journalist’s writing on anti-racism, anti-terrorism, and gender equality extol that same grit in the face of disagreement. Her blog, “As A Muslim, I Think Canada Should Ban the Niqab and Burka in Public,” was met with backlash and praise, proving that the issue was more complex than it seemed.
In 2014, Reva Seth was one of the few women who spoke out publicly about Jian Ghomeshi on sexual harassment and sexual assault. In a HuffPost blog titled, “Why I Can't Remain Silent About What Jian Did to Me”, she shared her own encounter with the former broadcaster, in an account that was powerful, eloquent and brave. She later reflected on progress that’s been made towards ending sexual violence. The Toronto-based lawyer, journalist and mother of three has written two best-selling books,The Mom Shift and First Comes Marriage.
Did you know Superwoman hails from Scarborough, Ont.? Her more than eight million YouTube subscribers do. Superwoman’s not-so-secret identity, Lilly Singh, is one of Canada’s most popular YouTubers. From impersonations of her parents to singing about city pride in Toronto’s subways, Singh’s viral videos have made her one of the brightest stars online. Time placed her alongside Barack Obama and Kim Kardashian as one of the top 30 influential people on the Internet.