From what we’ve seen in social media, 2016 wasn’t the greatest of years for a lot of people. Everything from terrorist acts to losing favourite celebrities to the US election to Fort McMurray’s wildfires, it hasn’t been easy. But we all know there have also been some great moments. Here are some that I found to be quite encouraging:
- Law against honour killings finally passed in Afghanistan
- There is peace in Columbia, and their president is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize
- Giant pandas were removed from the Endangered Species List
- A pope and a Russian Orthodox patriarch meet together for the first time in 1,000 years (Great, but kind of embarrassing… 1,000 years…)
- Tanzania and Gambia banned child marriage
- An experimental vaccine for curing ebola is proved 100% effective
- Radovan Karadzic finally put in prison (he orchestrated a slaughter of thousands in what was supposed to be a UN safe zone during the Bosnian war over 20 years ago)
- Researchers found new genes that give promising potential to cure ALS.
- Leonardo DiCaprio finally received an Oscar for best actor. And in this case, it wasn’t one of these “let’s give it to him, it’s been long enough” sympathy awards. He earned it.
I’d also like to share with you my two favourite heroes of 2016:
1. Keith Avila, an Uber driver in Sacramento, CA realized the two women and teen girl he’d picked up were actually two pimps bringing a child prostitute to a customer in a hotel. He could tell this from their conversation, so when they got out of his car he immediately called the police. The 16-year-old girl was saved from sex trafficking.
2. Bana al-Abed, a 7-year-old Syrian girl who used Twitter to expose the horrors of Aleppo. With the help of her mom, Bana not only accomplished this task, she became the face and inspiration of Syrian civilians facing this terrifying crisis. She and her mom’s tweets told of life under seige in Aleppo and thankfully more and more people are getting rescued. In fact, in the final two weeks of 2016 over 25,000 civilians were successfully evacuated. Including Bana.
For me, 2015 and 2016 will always be years that I remember the blessing of Syrian refugees. It’s frustrating (even a bit scary) that so many of us in the western world were reluctant to help. It’s not that I don’t understand the danger associated with helping, but I also understand the same danger that many Europeans faced over 70 years ago. Countless Jewish people sought help, protection, and asylum then. Not everyone helped, but many did. And they did more than allow Jews into their country; they allowed them into their homes. I think we’re doing the least we can do.
Each week I meet with Syrians who are attempting to adjust to life and culture in New Brunswick. They are wonderful people and I look forward to our English class together every Thursday. So on this brand new day of 2017, I raise my glass to toast my Syrians neighbours. Brothers and sisters, we’re glad you’re here.
Congratulations Zootopia. This is your week.
Best Actress: Lucy Boynton as Raphina in Sing Street
Best Actor: John Goodman as Howard in 10 Cloverfield Lane
Best Quote: “Do you think when she goes to sleep, she counts herself?” — Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman) referring to a sheep in Zootopia.
Since this week’s nominations post I’ve watched two more movies released in 2016 and they now take the #10 and #2 spots. Here is my top 10 list of 2016 movies:
10. The BFG
9. Team Foxcatcher
8. The Jungle Book
7. The Finest Hours
6. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
5. The Light Between Oceans
3. Sing Street
2. Hell or High Water
1. 10 Cloverfield Lane