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Celebrating 150 years of being nice
Canadians are ‘nice’. We’re polite, friendly people that say sorry when you bump into us. But being nice is so much more. During the past 150 years, we’ve shown the world what it means to be nice through our bravery, strength, pride and confidence. We encourage all of Canada to continue to be nice and celebrate Canada 150 with pride.
Happy birthday Canada! Here’s to being nice.
The story of our nice™ video
The funny nice.
Canada is the birthplace of some of the world’s most renowned comedic talents like Dan Aykroyd and John Candy.
In 1995, Canadian actors Dan Aykroyd and John Candy starred in the film Canadian Bacon, directed by Michael Moore. To date, it’s Moore’s only non-documentary film and Candy’s last on-screen performance. This comedy flick is about the President of the United States and his decision to start a cold war with Canada in order to gain popularity in the polls. More than 20 years later, the film remains a cult classic.
The real nice.
In 2005, Canada is the fourth country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage. Michael Leshner & Michael Stark were the first same sex couple to marry in Canada, after petitioning the Ontario courts for this right.
Ontario became the first Canadian province to legalize same-sex marriage. Michael Leshner and Michael Stark (The Michaels) are married shortly after a ruling in Toronto’s Superior Court legalized same sex marriage in Ontario on June 10, 2003 making history as the first same-sex marriage in Canada. Later that year, Time magazine names them the Canadian Newsmakers of the Year and they appear in the Toronto Pride Parade. In 2005, The Civil Marriage Act is passed and same-sex marriage is legalized across the country.
The kind of nice that takes guts.
A former UN Commander and Canadian Senator. Roméo Dallaire is a human rights advocate and founded the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative to help end the recruitment and use of child soldiers.
In 1994, General Roméo Dallaire was the Commander of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda during the Rwandan genocide, in which over 800,000 men, women and children from the Tutsi and moderate Hutu groups were murdered within 100 days. Despite Dallaire’s pleas for additional reinforcements, the peacekeeping standards at the time were not enough to stop the killings. Dallaire’s book Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda won the Governor General’s Literary Award for non-fiction in 2004. In 2005, former Prime Minister Paul Martin appointed Dallaire to the Canadian Senate.
The courageous nice.
Willie O’Ree broke a barrier for hockey while facing significant adversity. In 1958 he became the first black hockey player in the National Hockey League. He continues to advocate for diversity in sports to this day.
On January 18, 1958, Canadian Willie O’Ree became the first black hockey player in the National Hockey League. From 1955 to 1956, the New Brunswick native played in the Ontario Hockey Association for the Kitchener Canucks. During one of his games, a puck hit his right eye, which broke his nose, cheekbone and caused him to lose most of the vision in that eye. Despite this vision loss and a colour barrier, he was determined to play in the NHL and made his debut for the Boston Bruins in a game against the Montréal Canadiens. Today, O’Ree is the NHL’s Director of Youth Development and an ambassador for NHL Diversity as well as the Hockey is for Everyone Program.
The selfless nice.
Canadians across the country welcomed thousands of stranded passengers from diverted flights during 9/11. The town of Gander, Newfoundland with only 10,000 residents helped 6,700 passengers alone.
On September 11, 2001, the United States closed its airspace during the terrorist attacks in New York City, causing hundreds of planes to be diverted to Canada. Within a few hours, over 200 planes with 33,000 passengers landed at Canadian airports across the country. Thousands of stranded passengers were taken in and fed, with locals searching to find enough shelter and food in even the smallest communities like Gander, Newfoundland. A town of less than 10,000 people, Gander had 37 flights diverted to their airport carrying 6,700 passengers. With almost just as many passengers as locals, the entire community came together to help.
The disruptive nice.
Founded in Vancouver, BC, in 1971, Greenpeace is a respected, independent organization committed to change, protecting and conserving the environment and promoting peace.
In the image Greenpeace is shown protesting whale hunting in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary in 1999. Defending the oceans and sea life is just one of Greenpeace’s campaigns to make our planet a better place to live for all.
Being nice means finding the good within the bad.
In 2007, the Highway of Heroes was created to recognize and honour our Canadian soldiers, their contributions, and the sacrifices they make to protect and serve our nation.
The Ministry of Transportation announced that the Macdonald-Cartier Freeway, or Highway 401, from Glen Miller Road to the Don Valley Parkway and Highway 404 will be called the Highway of Heroes. This portion of the highway is the route used for the funeral convoys of fallen soldiers from the Canadian Forces Base in Trenton, Ontario. Gathering along the overpasses of the highway, crowds of people often pay their respects to the soldiers as the convoys pass by. To commemorate Canada 150 and our Canadian troops, the Highway of Heroes Living Tribute aims to plant 117,000 trees along or near the highway, with each tree representing one of Canada’s fallen soldiers since Confederation.
Nice means screaming when you have no voice.
In 1989, the Montréal Massacre shocked the country, prompting increased awareness of violence against women and a movement that was influential in Canadian gun control.
In what would be remembered as the Montréal Massacre, fourteen women were murdered and 13 others were wounded. The events at Montréal's École Polytechnique in 1989, shocked and horrified our nation. Following the shooting, former École Polytechnique student Heidi Rathjen and Wendy Cukier co-founded the Coalition for Gun Control, a movement that was influential in the passage of the Canadian Firearms Act in 1995.
Nice is opening doors when others are closed.
To aid Syrian refugees, the Canadian government promised to resettle 25,000 refugees by early 2016. As of January 2017, Canada has resettled over 40,000 refugees across the country.
In November of 2015, the Canadian government committed to resettling 25,000 Syrian refugees by early 2016. They also promised to revoke the ability to strip an individual with dual nationalities of their Canadian citizenship, increase the age of dependents to 22 years old, reform Canada’s temporary foreign worker program and restore health care coverage for refugees. Canadians have come together to welcome and aid the refugees with transitioning to life in a new country. From non-governmental organizations to social and volunteer groups, communities across the country help provide support to their new members.
Nice is standing tall when you can barely stand at all.
An inspiration for his strength and courage, Terry Fox’s legacy continues around the world with the Terry Fox Run for cancer research.
On April 12, 1980, Terry Fox started his Marathon of Hope to raise awareness and funds for cancer research, after losing a leg to cancer in 1977. He began his run in St. John’s, Newfoundland with the goal of running across Canada. On September 1 in Thunder Bay, Ontario after 5,373 kilometres, Terry’s run ended when he discovered that the cancer had returned to his lungs. He passed away on June 28, 1981 at the age of 22. An inspiration to all of Canada, he was named a Person of National Historic Significance by the Canadian government, inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, and is the youngest person to become a Companion of the Order of Canada. Today, the annual Terry Fox Run takes place around the world.
And sometimes nice is knowing when sorry just isn’t enough.
An apology was issued to Canada’s Indigenous people as part of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. This will never erase what occurred in Residential Schools.
In 2008, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) was launched as part of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, one of the largest settlements in Canadian history to compensate former students of Canada’s residential schools who experienced poor living conditions as well as physical, emotional and sexual abuse. A formal apology was issued to all former students by Prime Minister Stephen Harper as part of reparations for the residential school system. The TRC was given a five-year mandate to inform the Canadian population about residential schools, which was extended for an additional year until 2015. On May 31, 2015, thousands of supporters gathered at the École secondaire de l’Île in Gatineau, Quebec to participate in the Walk for Reconciliation days before the release of the commission’s final report. Shown are one of many events that took place across the country, such as Toronto’s walk to Queen’s Park.
About the Writer
Erin Beaupre is of Algonquin descent and a member of the Timiskaming First Nation of Notre-Dame-du-Nord, Quebec. She grew up in rural northern Ontario with close ties to the First Nations community.
Erin’s lifetime love of writing and natural inclination for storytelling led her to an award winning career in advertising where she currently works as a Senior Copywriter at The Garden Collective. Prior to that she has worked both in Canada and internationally in some of the world’s most respected agencies, including Young and Rubicam and EuroRSCG, creating breakthrough work on some truly iconic brands, including KFC, Corona, Coca-Cola and Bell. She currently resides in Toronto with her Yorkshire Terrier, Halle.
About the Actor
Kim Cattrall has had an extensive acting career that spans film, stage and television. This Canadian raised actress, most recently returned to TV in the series Sensitive Skin. She also can be seen playing the role of Emily French in The Witness for the Prosecution and was nominated for a 2017 BAFTA TV Award.
On stage Kim has been seen on the West End, Toronto stage and Broadway. Her most recent film credits include Roman Polanski’s The Ghost Writer, Meet Monica Velour, Sex and The City and Sex in the City 2 in which she reprises her award-winning role as the infamous ‘Samantha Jones’. Cattrall was recognized for her work in the TV series with a Golden Globe; two Screen Actors Guild Awards; five Emmy Award nominations and three Screen Actors’ Guild nominations.
A best-selling author, Cattrall has written several books. In 2009, Cattrall was inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame; and in 2011, she was honoured by GLAAD with the prestigious Golden Gate awards for her support of the organization.
Photo: Kate Orne
Your destination for all things Canada 150
Get fun facts about our nation, travel tips from local Canadians and up-to-the-minute news about our Canada 150 celebrations.LEARN MORE
Our Canada 150 Celebrations
Join in on all the fun leading up to the big day, including one-of-a-kind art installations at our flagship Roots stores and our Roots pop-up shop that will travel across Canada.
City and Colour Festival
The Commons at Butler's Barracks National Historic Site
*The Roots pop-up shop
*The nice™ Roots Artspace