(Black Press Media file photo)

The top stories and trends that defined the past decade in Canada

Opioids, gender identity and real estate all big talkers since 2010

The last decade in Canada has been one of seismic social changes. We’ve changed how we talk about gender, global politics, drugs and what it means to be a Canadian.

Here’s how the discourse has evolved around several topics that define this country and the people who live here:

Opioids

The addiction epidemic started with the over-prescribing of opioids near the start of the decade and worsened with a supply of synthetic street drugs like carfentanil and fentanyl, which only need tiny amounts to trigger a deadly overdose.

“The opioid crisis is without a doubt the single biggest public health crisis of our generation,” said Benjamin Perrin, the author of ”Overdose: Heartbreak and Hope in Canada’s Opioid Crisis,” a book set to be released next year about the epidemic.

Recent figures from the Public Health Agency of Canada show nearly 14,000 people have been killed by opioids since 2016, and Perrin said approximately one person dies from an overdose every two hours.

In an interview with The Canadian Press earlier this month, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau vowed to do more to combat the crisis, including creating more supervised consumption sites and giving doctors more authority to prescribe alternatives to street drugs.

However, he said that decriminalizing all drugs isn’t the ‘panacea’ to the crisis.

Gender identity

In 2011 a Toronto couple sparked a frenzy when they decided not to reveal the sex of their baby, Storm.

“The level of vitriol was outstanding,” said May Friedman, a professor specializing in gender identity at Ryerson University, noting people lashed out in person and online at the couple.

Over the last five years, that concept slowly started becoming more acceptable.

“I still wouldn’t say it’s a common move, but in downtown urban centres it’s not completely outlandish like it was perceived as being in 2011, which was really not a long time ago.”

Friedman said there was a clear tipping point in the middle of the decade where trans and gender fluid people were visible enough in media and where being trans, and lessening the importance of gender norms to your children, stopped being considered a radical idea.

Today, people put their pronouns in their email signatures, and many bathrooms make a point of welcoming anyone who identifies as a man or woman to use them. Some places drop gendered washrooms altogether.

But Friedman saidthere’s still progress to be made, especially when it comes to transgender people of colour, who may not always be as visible or represented in the media as white LGBTQ people.

Drake

When ”Thank Me Later” came out in 2010, few could have known that the Canadian artist — described at the time on review site Pitchfork as ”emo-y” — could have become one of the world’s most dominant artists. He was the most-streamed artist of the decade on Spotify, and his music helped put Toronto on the map as a city with a hip-hop identity.

“Perhaps above all, however, is his ability to appeal to a wide variety of fans who might identify with various aspects of his multi-faceted persona,” said Ken McLeod, an associate professor of musicology at University of Toronto.

“Over the past decade where streaming services have broadened musical tastes, and where ethnic and musical diversity are increasingly valorized, he metaphorically sits in the middle of a cultural and stylistic Venn diagram.”

Real estate

Home prices have more than doubled since the start of the decade, outpacing income by a large margin and putting home ownership out of reach for many young people in two of Canada’s biggest cities, says John Pasalis, president of real estate site Realosophy.

Back in 2010, Pasalis estimates housing prices in Toronto were about five times more than average yearly income, whereas now they’re roughly eight times more. He said the situation is similar in Vancouver.

“Today’s generation of first-time buyers is battling with sky-high rents and a market that is a lot harder to get into than ten years ago,” said Pasalis. ”It’s harder to save and it’s harder to get into the market.”

Market control measures from governments have had mixed impact. Pasalis said in Toronto, a mortgage stress test led more people to buy condos and vastly inflated their pricing. In Vancouver a foreign buyer’s tax has softened the market, but prices there are still sky-high.

The Toronto Raptors

Madness appeared to spread across Canada over the Raptors’ 2019 playoff run. When the Raptors started their finals series against the Golden State Warriors, thousands of people across the country crowded into dozens of outdoor screenings.

But it took much of the decade to build such fanfare — after all, in 2011 the Raptors finished with the second-worst season record in the Eastern Conference.

General Manager Masai Ujiri made gutsy moves towards building the team, firing head coach Dwane Casey and to sending DeMar DeRozan to San Antonio in a trade that got Toronto the superstar that is Kawhi Leonard.

The Raptors’ feverish playoff following indicates that basketball is beginning to rival hockey as the nation’s most popular sport, said Laurel Walzak, a sport media assistant professor at Ryerson University.

But the lasting memory will be of the Raptors’ playoff run, and more than a million fans celebrating their championship in Toronto in June.

“I don’t think this can ever be repeated in any sport moving forward. This was a true uniting of global fans and a true uniting of Canada,” said Walzak.

China

The last decade has cemented the possibility of China becoming the world’s dominant economy, and the implications of that haven’t been lost on Canada.

The two Canadian prime ministers this decade have had vastly different approaches to relations with the East Asian country, said Lynette Ong, a University of Toronto professor specializing in Chinese politics.

“The Harper government did not have China as a priority either as a trade partner or in foreign policy. Trudeau’s government, in his first term, swung the pendulum in the other direction with strong engagement with China,” said Ong.

Canada has recently been caught in the middle of a controversy with China after carrying out the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of telecom company Huawei, at the request of the U.S.

China then detained two Canadians, Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, in what was widely seen as retaliation for the arrest of Meng.

Despite current tensions, Ong sees potential benefits in the rise of China.

“There is a great deal of complementarity between the two countries, and hence significant scope of gains from trade,” she said. ”If we are able to effectively manage the risks, Canada stands to gain a lot from trading with China.”

Salmaan Farooqui, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Best of 2019

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Eva Xu (left) and Joanne Moon (right) presents Campbell River Hospital Foundation executive director Stacey Marsh (centre) with a $1,476 cheque to go towards the new mammography machine at the hospital. Photo supplied by Campbell River Hospital Foundation.
Gourmet Essentials donates nearly $1,500 to Hospital Foundation

Machine will cut wait times for mammogram results

Robbie Burns Day will be celebrated a little differently this year, but celebrated it will be as the Tidemark Theatre presents a live virtual celebration that will be available for ticketholders to view for three days. Black Press File Photo
Tidemark Theatre presents Burns Night 2021: The Bard & His Ballads

A tale of whisky and haggis, and of how Robbie Burns would emerge as a champion for the common man

Everett Bumstead (centre) and his crew share a picture from a tree planting location in Sayward on Vancouver Island from when they were filming for ‘One Million Trees’ last year. Photo courtesy, Everett Bumstead.
The tree planting life on Vancouver Island features in new documentary

Everett Bumstead brings forth the technicalities, psychology and politics of the tree planting industry in his movie

Bill Reekie and his then-four-year-old granddaughter Lily. Photo contributed
Alzheimer’s – the Unplanned Journey

By Jocelyn Reekie Special to the Mirror “January is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month… Continue reading

The Kwiakah First Nation is looking to lease some Crown land at the old Campbell River Gun Range to create a community garden for its members and a series of greenhouses to sell produce to cover operational costs. Black Press File Photo
Kwiakah First Nation looks to open farm at old Campbell River gun range

City defers decision on allowing it until they can consult with other local First Nations

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C. adjusts COVID-19 vaccine rollout for delivery slowdown

Daily cases decline over weekend, 31 more deaths

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Nanaimo RCMP are investigating after a threat was made at Woodgrove Centre on Tuesday, Jan. 19. (News Bulletin file photo)
Threat directed at Nanaimo mall, RCMP investigating

Police have searched areas of Woodgrove Centre accessible to shoppers and have deemed it safe

A pinniped was attacked by an unseen predator off the shores of Dallas Road Monday night. (Courtesy of Steffani Cameron)
VIDEO: Seal hunting a fish off Dallas Road sparks social media debate

Victoria woman captures footage of pinniped activity off Dallas Road

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic from Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic from Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau vows to keep up the fight to sway U.S. on merits of Keystone XL pipeline

Canada’s pitch to the Biden team has framed Keystone XL as a more environmentally friendly project than original

The British Columbia Hotel Association (BCHA) sent out a sharply worded release late last week, in which it noted that the Tourism Industry Association of BC recently obtained a ‘legal opinion’ on the matter (Alex Passini photo)
Hotel associations push back against any potential ban on inter-provincial, non-essential travel restrictions

B.C. Premier John Horgan is seeking legal advice on banning non-essential travel

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
COVID rapid tests in long-term care key during vaccine rollout: B.C. care providers

‘Getting kits into the hands of care providers should be a top priority,’ says former Health Minister

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. turns to second doses of COVID-19 vaccine as supplies slow

Pfizer shipments down until February, to be made up in March

B.C.’s Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training announced funding to train community mental health workers at four B.C. post-secondary institutions. (Stock photo)
B.C. funding training of mental health workers at four post-secondary institutions

Provincial government says pandemic has intensified need for mental health supports

Most Read