Gord Downie has been voted The Canadian Press Newsmaker of the Year for 2016. His very public struggle with mortality struck a chord with all Canadians and his impact on Canadian culture, and advocacy for aboriginals inspired news editors and directors across the country to select him.
Downie has been making headlines since he shocked the country in May by revealing that he had incurable brain cancer. Despite the prognosis, the poetic singer-songwriter headed out on a last cross-country tour with his beloved band, the Tragically Hip and the "Man Machine Poem" tour became Canada's hottest summer ticket. In August, on the last night of the tour, Downie took a moment during the televised concert to campaign for Canada's aboriginal people.
Less than a month later, Downie released Secret Path, a solo multimedia project that recounts the life of 12-year-old Chanie Wenjack, who died in 1966 after running away from a residential school. In early December, Downie was recognized during the Assembly of First Nations special assembly in Gatineau, Quebec, and was anointed the "Man Who Walks Among the Stars."
Downie received 39% of the votes in the annual survey, marking the first time in the Newsmaker's 70-year history that an entertainer has been selected for the title. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was second with 27%, while Fort McMurray fire Chief Darby Allen and four-time Olympic medallist Penny Oleksiak tied with 12% of the votes.
Justin Trudeau was voted The Canadian Press Newsmaker of the Year for 2015.