(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

ANKORS held a small demonstration outside Nelson City Hall and the courthouse Wednesday to mark the five-year anniversary of the province declaring the toxic drug supply crisis. Photo: Tyler Harper
‘We’re all supposed to take care of each other’: 5 years of toxic drug supply crisis marked in Nelson

Over 7,000 people have died in B.C. since the crisis was announced in 2016

COVID-19 numbers continue to rise in the Kootenays. Illustration: BC Centre for Disease Control
Highest weekly number of new COVID-19 cases in 2021 for Nelson

The Nelson local health area had 13 new cases in early April

The 300 block of Victoria Street will be the site of the city’s transit hub, after further discussions with businesses and residents on that block as well as the 200 block of Victoria and on Kootenay Street. Photo: Bill Metcalfe
Nelson sticks with Victoria Street for transit hub, promises further discussion on design

Council resisted calls to reconsider the 300 block of Victoria Street

RCMP say a fire that killed a Balfour woman in April 2020 is no longer considered suspicious. Photo: Phil McLachlan
Balfour house fire death not considered suspicious: RCMP

A woman died in the blaze on April 8, 2020

An Interior Health nurse administers Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines to seniors and care aids in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16, 2021. (Phil McLachlan/Kelowna Capital News)
105 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health

Just over 8,000 new vaccine doses administered in the region for a total of 158,000 to date

Tyler’s facial expression was a bad idea.
VIDEO: Wednesday Roundup

This week we talk about a COVID school exposure and more on the transit hub

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

Demonstrators at the legislature on April 14 called on the province to decriminalize drug possession and provide widespread access to regulated safe supply across B.C. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)
Rally calls for decriminalization, safe supply on 5th anniversary of overdose emergency declaration

From 2016 to the end of February, 7,072 British Columbians died due to overdose

(Government of Canada)
Liberal MP caught stark naked during House of Commons video conference

William Amos, in Quebec, appeared on the screens of his fellow members of Parliament completely naked

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Feb. 1, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count jumps to 1,168 Wednesday, nearly 400 in hospital

Now 120 coronavirus patients in intensive care, six more deaths

Moss covered branches are seen in the Avatar Old Growth Forest near Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island, B.C. Thursday, Sept. 29, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. blockades aimed at protecting old-growth forests reveal First Nation split

Two Pacheedaht chiefs say they’re ‘concerned about the increasing polarization over forestry activities’ in the territory

Richmond RCMP Chief Superintendent Will Ng said, in March, the force received a stand-out number of seven reports of incidents that appeared to have “racial undertones.” (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
‘Racially motivated’ incidents on the rise in B.C’s 4th largest city: police

Three incidents in Richmond are currently being invested as hate crimes, says RCMP Chief Superintendent Will Ng

A still from the video taken of a violent arrest on May 30, 2020 in downtown Kelowna. (File)
Kelowna Mountie charged with assault for caught-on-camera violent arrest

Const. Siggy Pietrzak was filmed punching a suspected impaired driver at least 10 times during an arrest

A screenshot from a Nuu-chah-nulth healing song and performance created in collaboration between Hjalmer Wenstob and Timmy Masso. (Screenshot from YouTube)
VIDEO: Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation brothers produce COVID-19 healing song

Hjalmer Wenstob and Timmy Masso share dance and inspiration.

Most Read