(Black Press Media file photo)

(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

Residents line up socially distanced at the Seedy Saturday event, held at the Lobelco Hall parking lot from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 3 with strict COVID-19 restrictions and precautions in place. (Nicole Kaechele photo)
Seedlings, plants and seeds offered at Seedy Saturday

“It was a fairly good turnout,” noted Elizabeth Howard

The Bella Coola Valley Arts Council (BCVAC) has recently received two awards totaling $40,000 from the province-wide British Columbia Arts Council, part of the StrongerBC: BC’s Economic Recovery Plan. The grants are to be used to stimulate local arts communities and to help them cope with impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo submitted)
Bella Coola Valley Arts Council receives $40,000 for local projects

The grants will be used to stimulte local arts communities and help them cope with the pandemic

Nuxalk Sputc Crew technician Scmlh (Jason Moody) walks in Bella Coola River towards sputc holding tank with cinematographer Louvens Remy (photo submitted)
Documentary to highlight importance of sputc for Nuxalk Nation

Sputc: We Shall Eat When the River is Full is a cinematic tale of wealth, loss and recovery

Carver Ken Sheen had almost finished work on a large cowboy carving commissioned by the City of Williams Lake to replace the original overlooking the Stampede Grounds when fire broke out Friday, April 18 at his property between Williams Lake and Quesnel. (Pine River Carving Facebook photos)
Nearly completed cow boss statue commissioned by City of Williams Lake lost to fire

Carver Ken Sheen lost the statue, all his tools and his shop in the blaze

Spring flooding is causing damage at Tl’etinqox First Nation west of Williams Lake. (Isidore Harry photo)
UPDATE: Spring freshet causes road damage at Tl’etinqox First Nation

Other damaged sections of Highway 20 are also under repairs

Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and vacation bookings are being increased in B.C. (B.C. government)
Out-of-region B.C. vacation bookings, RV ferry reservations to be refused, Horgan says

B.C. extends COVID-19 indoor dining, group fitness ban until May 25

(New Westminster Police)
4 youth arrested after 30-person brawl in New Westminster leaves 1 seriously injured

Police are looking for witnesses who saw the incident take place

South Surrey’s Paul Cottrell, who works with the DFO, tows a grey whale out of Semiahmoo Bay Sunday. (Contributed photo)
Dead whale floating near White Rock towed to shore for necropsy

Animal has been dead since at least April 15

Sunday’s storm rocked one of the ferries crossing Kootenay Lake. Photo: Dirk Jonker
VIDEO: Storm makes for wild ferry ride across Kootenay Lake

The video was captured by ferry employee Dirk Jonker

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
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

Dr. Bonnie Henry gives her daily media briefing regarding Covid-19 for the province of British Columbia in Victoria, B.C, Monday, December 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
BREAKING: Toddler marks youngest British Columbian to die related to COVID-19

Child one of eight people to die from virus this weekend

Chakalaka Bar & Grill remains open in defiance of orders from Island Health to close. (Cole Schisler photo)
B.C. health authority seeks injunction against restaurant defying COVID-19 orders

Chakalaka Bar and Grill plans to continue serving customers without public health compliance

Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges all the empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines that she has provided to customers at the Junction Chemist which is a independent pharmacy during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto, on Monday, April 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. to open up AstraZeneca vaccines for all people 40+, set up clinics in hot spots

A total of 13 neighbourhoods and communities will receive the AstraZeneca vaccine

Most Read