Time to get to know Canadians who have changed the world

The Olympics is a time when Canadian pride soars. Here is one kind of Canadian hero: Those healthy, determined and beautiful young people who “win the podium” we claim as our kids.

50 Canadians Who

Changed The World

$29.95 Harper Collins Publishing

The Olympics is a time when Canadian pride soars. Here is one kind of Canadian hero: Those healthy, determined and beautiful young people who “win the podium” we claim as our kids.

But this book shows other citizens, many unknown to us, who are changing the world.

Six chapters tell the story.

First we have the activists, who challenge the status quo, spirited defenders of the environment, and guardians of personal freedom.

Second: Visionaries, those who see that big isn’t always better and that some things we lose are gone forever.

Three: is Artists, Painters, Writers and Filmmakers, slightly better known through the Media.

Four: Humanitarians; for example Terry Fox, a man who knew that one person could make a difference.

Five: Performers, Actors, Musicians and Athletes: A Montreal jazzman, an eccentric pianist, a talented Mohawk actor.

Six: Scientists and Inventors; the geneticists, and astrophysicists saving our lives in quiet labs, whose language is exotic and incomprehensible.

Fifty people in total and many of us would not recognize their names.

All of the people lauded in this book were born in the 20th century, and in large ways and small they have changed the world. They are Canadians, most of them born here, and others are men and women who have made Canada their home.

Shouldn’t we know who they are?

I’ll report here on just a few of them. Louise Arbour may be known as a judge in the Supreme Court, but she also fought for fundamental human rights in the International Court of Justice, in the case of atrocities in Rwanda and Kosovo. From humble beginnings, she is a not-so-ordinary Canadian.

Visionaries includes Jane Jacobs, the saviour of the neighbourhood. American born but a Canadian citizen, “who transformed the way we … inhabit a city.”

Don Tapscott is also a Visionary, a cyber-guru who speaks in a language foreign to me, but has a lot to say to the young.

Artist includes Joe Shuster (Joe who?). A graphic author/novelist, who, along with friend Jerry Siegel, created Superman.

Do you know of the Humanitarian named Samantha Nutt, founder of War Child Canada, a Canadian doctor in Somalia and other war zones? Both a humanitarian and a visionary, she needs our help with her dreams.

Jay Silverheels, Oscar Peterson, Joni Mitchell, Hayley Wickenheiser — we think we know them, and here is their story. A patriot when I started this book, I’ll be downright tiresome before I’m through. We have so much to celebrate.

The Scientists and Inventors who beaver away in labs are mostly unknown to us. Geneticist Michael R. Hayden and Sara Seager; an astrophysicist, who looks for life out-there, and geniuses of stem cell research.

Some names here are well known but isn’t it time we knew all these people? Fifteen I’ve mentioned, 35 for you to discover.

They are changing our world. I’m thinking we would still be Canadians if we threw our hats in the air once in a while.

Peggy Freeman is a local freelance books reviewer.