Timmins–James Bay MP Charlie Angus is the NDP’s critic for indigenous and northern affairs. In 2011, he published a HuffPost blog, “What If They Declared an Emergency, and No One Came?”, about the Attawapiskat housing crisis just as the community became known to Canadians. Now, five years later, Attawapiskat is again in a state of emergency owing to an alarmingly high rate of suicide attempts, particularly by young people. Angus continues to advocate for indigenous communities across Canada.
INFORM — Donovan Mahoney, Photographer
As if you didn’t need more reminders that Vancouver is gorgeous, street photographer Donovan Mahoney has plenty of proof. However, his shots of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside capture a more candid perspective of the city’s streets. The area is a low-income area that struggles with crime and residents’ drug-addiction issues. Mahoney, who used to live in the area, uses his photography to portray the neighbourhood’s realities and residents with beauty and profound empathy.
INFORM — Elizabeth May, Politician
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.
INFORM — Glen Canning, Advocate
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.
INFORM — Glen Pearson, Blogger
Glen Pearson has been a passionate blogger on politics for HuffPost Canada. The former Liberal MP penned poignant pieces, such as his tribute to Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers after the Ottawa shootings in 2014 and a remembrance of the late Jim Flaherty. In that blog, Pearson wrote, “I was a Liberal; he was a Conservative. But not once did that stop us from being civil.” The father of seven started the food bank in London, Ont., in 1986 and stayed on as the director for 25 years. He has also written six books.
INFORM — Jacqueline Melissen, Blogger
Jacqueline Melissen had a lot to say “To the Women Who Wear Bikinis in Front of My Daughters.” In one of the most viral posts in HuffPost Canada’s five years, she thanked women for helping her girls develop a realistic body image outside of airbrushed magazine spreads. Melissen is one half of the blog, TwoFunMoms.com, about the “woes, wiggles and wonders of parenting. Along with her co-blogger Juliana Fruhling, she covers everything from stress and cleaning tips to postpartum depression and the anti-vaccine movement. The Vancouver-based mom also wrote “Why Child-Free Aunties Are Amazing,” another runaway hit that helped spread the love in a big way.
INFORM — Jason Tetro, Microbiologist
You might know him as “The Germ Guy,” which is perfectly fine for Toronto-based microbiologist Jason Tetro. He’s the go-to expert on all things health and hygiene, going viral with his online media segments and blog posts. Tetro is always happy to give the low-down on germs, notably on how to fight bad breath, debunking Zika virus myths, and how to dodge an office flu. Whatever gross dilemma you have, Tetro has a sanitary solution.
INFORM — Joseph Boyden, Writer
With a pen and his voice, Métis author Joseph Boyden is determined to fight for aboriginal people in Canada. Originally from Toronto, Boyden has since moved to the United States, but he has a bullhorn from across the border that he uses to shout out about indigenous issues. He spoke to HuffPost Canada about missing and murdered indigenous women and racism in Canada, and when Attawapiskat declared a state of emergency, Boyden reflected on his own struggles with depression and the trauma and appalling conditions he witnessed while teaching in James Bay.
INFORM — Lauren Messervey, Writer, Blogger
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.
INFORM — Lizanne Foster, Teacher
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.
INFORM — Marcia Sirota, Psychiatrist
Marcia Sirota has been helping HuffPost Canada readers get their lives together since 2011. As a coach, author and psychiatrist, Sirota has written countess HuffPost blogs that offer helpful advice on stress, wellness, relationships, addiction, sex, confidence and much more. Based in Toronto, she founded the Ruthless Compassion Institute as a network to help folks live happier, healthier lives. Her insightful blog on "The Connection Between Childhood Experiences And Adult Problems" was an important contribution to our Young Minds Matter series.
INFORM — Tracy Gillett, Blogger
“He’ll sleep with you.” An off-the-cuff comment from her midwife about her baby’s sleeping arrangements set Tracy Gillett on the path to natural parenting. The Vancouver mom has made it a priority to connect organically with her son. That means everything from nixing the stroller in favour of carrying him to living with minimal possessions. Her HuffPost blog, “Simplifying Childhood May Protect Against Mental Health Issues,” exploded in 2016 with more than 1.6 million views to date, and inspired her to publish an ebook, Parenting by Nature. She also founded the blog, Raised Good, to create a community for parents focused on a natural upbringing for their kids.
INFORM — Raffi Cavoukian, Musician
Thanks to Raffi, many childhoods were filled with fantastical songs featuring bananaphones and baby belugas. Now, those kids are getting schooled on the critically acclaimed entertainer’s political side. He has penned songs about the Dalai Lama, sang about heaving Stephen Harper out of office, and crafted an ode for U.S. Democrat Bernie Sanders. When he isn’t singing, Raffi is sharing his views on environmental issues, politics, social media, and the rights of children. With a slew of awards and honourary degrees under his belt (including an Order of Canada, no big deal), Raffi’s qualified enough to give anyone counsel, which is just what he did in his blog, “Advice to Harper,” a letter to Canada’s former prime minister.
INFORM — Raheel Raza, Writer
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.
Anne McIsaac has a thing for yellow. She spots it on rooftops, doors, in puddles and in the sky. For a dose of happy, scroll through this creative director’s Instagram, @yellowillow, to see the random snaps of the sunny colour as she treks through Montreal and travels North America. With an eye for composition and unusual moments, she’s bringing Quebec into the Instagram world like none other.
INSPIRE — Anubha Momin, Instagrammer
Yes, people in Canada really do live in our North. Finding True North’s Instagram proves it by curating and amplifying life in Nunavut. The account and blog run by Anubha Momin showcases the faces and stunning landscapes in Nunavut. The account hosts Nunavut’s only Instagram contest, #Nunagram, which gets the rest of the territory involved in showing off their pride. Finding True North takes you into the Canadian Arctic and the territory Momin calls home.
INSPIRE — Ashley Callingbull, Advocate
Ashley Callingbull made headlines for winning Mrs. Universe 2015 as the contest’s first First Nations winner, but the beauty queen truly won Canadians over with her impassioned outspokenness for Indigenous rights. Fresh off her coronation, Callingbull asked Indigenous voters not to re-elect former prime minister Stephen Harper. She’s also advocated for political reform, seal hunting, and missing and murdered indigenous women.
INSPIRE — Charlotte Singmin, Yogi
For life’s worries, yoga instructor and model Charlotte Singmin has the green solution, and has been helping HuffPost Canada editors find their zen with her in-office yoga and meditation classes. Armed with tips for healthy eating and eco-friendly beauty advice,Toronto-based Singmin knows exactly what will help urban city-slickers get in touch with their nature-loving sides. Her knack for finding cruelty-free brands and yoga poses that will get you sleeping more easily show it’s easy to be kind to your body and Earth.
You haven’t seen northern Canada until you’ve seen it through Curtis Jones’ eyes. He spent 11 years living in Nunavut and captured the awe-inspiring colours of the sky, mountains and ice, with occasional doses of humans and puppy love. Jones has since moved back to Newfoundland and Labrador, but this photographer will give you an appreciation of Canada’s landscape, and urge you to explore.
INSPIRE — Eden Full, Innovator
Don’t give up on your science fair projects, you may have a gem on your hands, like Eden Full’s SunSaluter. Full’s first solar creation was a little car that could move from one end of the room to the next using juice from the sun. She was nine at the time. Fast forward years later, and using gravity and a water jug, Full created a solar panel that moves to face the sun as it crosses the sky. It’s not only 30 per cent more efficient but filters water to boot. At 18, the Calgary native put college on hold and with the help of the Thiel Fellowship, turned her science fair project into a non-profit that serves rural communities in 16 countries around the world. Now in her 20s, Full has already made Forbes’ 30 under 30 list, and shows no signs of easing up any time soon.
INSPIRE — Erin Treloar, Advocate
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.
INSPIRE — Heidi Cook, Councillor
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.
INSPIRE — Jamaal Merrick, Instagrammer
Drake put the 6ix on the map, but @jamaalism is one of the photographers putting it on the ‘Gram. Jamaal Merrick has a knack for finding unusual perspectives of Toronto architecture. His photos are eclectic: shots from the city’s transit tunnels and from bridges and highway overpasses; reflections inside an empty museum. With a Sony mirrorless camera, Merrick shows off Toronto’s gritty cityscapes and earned a feature on our Canadagram series. He also created a community account @ttczone after realizing just how often he and other Torontonians snap Toronto’s transit fixtures.
INSPIRE — Jessica Kruger, Model
Not many cover models have visible disabilities. British Columbia’s Jessica Kruger wanted to change that. She became Canada’s first quadriplegic model in 2013 after winning Lisa Watier’s “Something Sweet” perfume campaign while attending Simon Fraser University. Kruger broke her neck in a workplace accident when she was 15 years old. From her wheelchair, she’s set out to prove that “different” is beautiful, as she wrote in a HuffPost blog. Kruger’s success led to her gracing beauty magazine covers nationwide.
INSPIRE — Kayla Short, Instagrammer
Kayla Short, make us look fabulous. Short is your go-to Canuck lifestyle blogger and personal stylist. Based in Halifax, she runs “Short Presents” where she blogs about all things fashion, beauty and food. You may have also caught her on CTV Halifax offering up some personal styling tips or featured in HuffPost’s style section and Canadagram series for her Instagram aesthetic (plus her sigh-worthy shots of the Maritime coast).
INSPIRE — Niki Sharma, Lawyer
Vancouver-based lawyer Niki Sharma focuses on aboriginal law and represents residential school survivors. She also writes on her own experiences with race, for example, “Dear Loretta: Your Racial Slur Disturbed Me, But I Won't Delete It,” which was a response to a racist commenter. Sharma was recently elected to Vancity credit union’s board of directors.
INSPIRE — Sam MacCulloch
Sam MacCulloch moved from Alberta to Ontario to take advantage of something most residents take for granted — the province’s health coverage. MacCulloch, who is transgender, is on a waiting list for gender-affirming surgery, which could take two years. They shared their journey, experience with gender dysphoria, and search for community in Toronto in a documentary for HuffPost Canada. Safe and affordable access to health care in Canada has been an important issue for trans Canadians, made apparent when the only clinic for gender-affirming surgery was set on fire in 2016.
INSPIRE — Susur Lee, Chef
Long before he was a Top Chef contestant and MasterChef judge, celebrity chef Susur Lee was flipping burgers in Toronto. His culinary achievements came after a life of working hard in Hong Kong and overcoming tragedy in Canada, and he’s now well-known in Toronto with a string of successful high-end restaurants. Lee has delighted HuffPost readers by sharing everything from thoughts on his authentic Chinese New Year dishes to tips on transforming everyday dishes into culinary delights. He and his sons opened Fring’s in 2015 to much buzz when the exclusive resto opening included a surprise guest: Drake. HuffPost Canada was there, naturally.
INSPIRE — Winnie Harlow, Model
Wanna rise to the top? Former “America’s Next Top Model” contestant Winnie Harlow did, and although she didn’t win the reality show, she’s now winning over the fashion industry. Harlow, who hails from Mississauga, Ont., has vitiligo, a skin condition that causes loss of pigmentation. In the face of this, she has launched a successful modelling career and speaks openly about bullying. Harlow got people talking when she said that fans copying her vitiligo with makeup weren’t doing blackface. She recently hung out with Beyoncé for “Lemonade,” making a cameo in the superstar’s visual album.
ENTERTAIN — Bradley Friesen, Photographer
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.
ENTERTAIN — Carey Price, Athlete
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 medalist grew up on a reserve near Williams Lake, B.C., and has not forgotten his roots, making substantial donations to the community.
ENTERTAIN — Drake, Musician
He started from the bottom, but then moved up to Degrassi. Now he’s everywhere. Drake is the closest thing Toronto has to an official hometown hero, repping it, renaming it the 6ix, and serving as the global ambassador for the Toronto Raptors. The artist also known as Drizzy is arguably Canada’s most recognizable meme, with everyone and their mom hotline blinging or Photoshopping him dangling from strange places. Oh, and did we mention he’s a world-famous rapper and singer with multiple platinum records to his name?
ENTERTAIN — Paul Mason, Model
Remember when everyone wanted to be on Santa’s naughty list? Fashion Santa, a.k.a. model Paul Mason, had Toronto-area shoppers lining up at a mall to ogle the festively haute-couture St. Nick. The holiday icon decked out the shopping halls, and his stylish selfies garnered international attention. He even has a holly jolly doppleganger in Mexico, Mr. Claus. Only time will tell if Santa’s wish for a selfie showdown with Justin Bieber will happen in time for Christmas this year.
ENTERTAIN — Jus Reign, Social Media Creator
If you’ve got six seconds, that’s all Vine comedian and social media celebrity Jus Reign needs to get a gut-busting laugh. Real name Jasmeet Singh, his hilarious observations on race and Indian culture have also earned Singh one of the most devoted Snapchat fan bases in Canada — his one million-plus Vine followers and almost 701,000 YouTube followers are nothing to sneeze at it either. Recently, Singh used his massive fan base for good, when he took a stand against rapper Azealia Banks’ anti-South Asian remarks. He changed his Twitter name, and retweeted selfies tagged #curryscentedbitch by women who reclaimed the derogatory term.
ENTERTAIN — Kyle Lowry, Athlete
Fans of Toronto Raptor (and honorary Canadian) Kyle Lowry know the basketball player has come a long way from his life in Philadelphia. Signed to a four-year, $48 million deal with the Raptors, Lowry went from starter underdog with the Memphis Grizzlies and Houston Rockets to an all-star player, and is widely considered the heart and soul of Canada’s only NBA team. After leading the team out of its long slump, Lowry finally gave Raptors fans something to cheer about. For that, they might even forgive him for choosing Philly steak over poutine.
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.)
EMPOWER — Bruce Moncur, Veteran
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”.
EMPOWER — Carol Todd, Activist
Carol Todd’s daughter, Amanda, was a victim of such severe bullying that the 15-year-old posted a video about the harassment, then took her own life. The death of Amanda Todd shook the country (and the world), and started a conversation about cyber-bullying — so much so that Carol started the Amanda Todd Legacy. “I’m Taking on Bullying in Memory of My Daughter, Amanda Todd,” she declared in a HuffPost blog. Her organization raises awareness on all kinds of bullying as well as Internet safety. Carol has shared openly how she’s dealt with grief and with awareness of mental health issues.
EMPOWER — Craig and Marc Kielburger, Activists
When Craig Kielburger was 12, he and his friends decided they wanted to end child labour. Fast-forward 20 years and he and his brother, Marc, now head Free the Children, a charity that focuses on getting kids involved in driving social change globally. Through their FTC offshoots, Me to We and WE Day, the latter of which AOL Canada/HuffPost Canada has helped sponsor, they’ve built schools around the world, supported impoverished communities and empowered countless kids to believe they can make a difference. The Kielburgers have received numerous honours for their work, including the Order of Canada.
EMPOWER — Curtis Bishop, Advocate
When Curtis Bishop sees someone sleeping outside, he gets angry. Why? Because for seven years, he lived on the streets. In a personal account, Bishop described what it was like to go from being an accountant in Vancouver to being homeless in Toronto, not sparing details or shying from painful memories. Thanks to supportive housing from Houselink, Bishop got a second chance. Houselink gave Bishop more than a home; as the group’s president of the board of directors, he also has the opportunity to advocate for the rights of homeless and low-income people.
EMPOWER — Ian Campeau (A Tribe Called Red), Musician
If you need a lesson in First Nations issues, prepare to be schooled. Ian Campeau, one-third of the indigenous electronic music group, A Tribe Called Red, unapologetically stands up against racism and cultural appropriation. The Anishinaabe DJ from Nipissing First Nation filed a human rights complaint and successfully pressured a local Ottawa team to ditch their moniker “Redskins.” He brushed off heat over his allegedly racist “Caucasians” satirical T-shirt that was modelled after the Indians MLB team logo. And together with his DJ crew, he made it clear that they were not here for “native-inspired” garb at their shows. Knocking out killer beats and racism one step at a time.
EMPOWER — Jean-Paul Bédard, Runner, Speaker
Can you imagine running a marathon? How about running three in one day for a cause? Jean-Paul Bédard has done just that as an advocate and speaker about his own experiences with childhood sexual abuse and addiction. He uses his running and writing to build awareness in hopes of helping other survivors. With more than 100 marathons and ultramarathons under his belt, the Toronto resident has completed the gruelling 90-kilometre run for South Africa’s Comrades Marathon.
EMPOWER — Jenna Talackova, Advocate, Model
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.
EMPOWER — Justin Trudeau and Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, Politician and Activist
There’s enough about Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to write a book — which The Huffington Post Canada’s Ottawa bureau chief Althia Raj did in 2013. Much has been said about our nation’s leader and his activist wife, and Trudeaumania 2.0 has swept what seems like the whole world following the Liberals’ 2015 landslide victory. Trudeau’s HuffPost Global Town Hall made clear that while Canadians were basking in the positive media coverage the Trudeaus attracted, they would also hold him accountable for policy-making, as well as his stands on military aid and foreign trade.
EMPOWER — Reva Seth, Lawyer
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."
EMPOWER — Tessa Hill and Lia Valente, Activists
Before these teens even entered high school, Tessa Hill and Lia Valente created a short documentary called “Allegedly” that put a spotlight on rape culture and consent. Did we mention they were 13 at the time? Their Grade 8 project wound up sparking a campaign called “We Give Consent,” a petition with more than 40,000 signatures and got them a sit-down with Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne. In the end, these two won what they were fighting for: consent was added to Ontario’s new sex-ed curriculum.
CLARIFICATION May 26, 2016: Despite not being Canadian, Kyle Lowry was selected for his significant contributions to the Toronto Raptors. The text has been updated to clarify that detail.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story featured the wrong photo for Ian Campeau. The image has been updated.
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