In this timely and heartwarming volume of personal stories, Peter Mansbridge and former CBC producer Mark Bulgutch bring together inspiring Canadians from across the country, who in their own way, are making Canada a better place for all.
Hear Gitxsan activist Cindy Blackstock describe her childhood in northern British Columbia where she straddled two communities—Indigenous and non-Indigenous—and her subsequent fight for equitable health care for all children as the executive director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society. Meet Matt Devlin, the Toronto Raptors broadcaster who helped calm the crowd when a gunman began shooting in Nathan Phillips Square after the team’s NBA championship win, or the nurse fighting on the frontlines of COVID-19. From the young woman living with Crohn’s disease—and proudly modeling her ostomy bag—to the rabbi whose family fled Nazi Germany—and who now gives the benediction on Parliament Hill each Remembrance Day—Extraordinary Canadians celebrates the people who have overcome adversity and broken down barriers to champion the rights and freedoms of everyone who calls Canada home.
Featuring voices from all walks of life—advocates, politicians, doctors, veterans, immigrants, business leaders, and more—this collection gets to the heart of what it means to be Canadian. These stories will change the way you see your country and make you fall in love with Canada all over again.
“I have had the honour of meeting so many people across our great country who make Canada the incredible place that it is, and am delighted to help share their inspiring stories.” — Peter Mansbridge
Peter Mansbridge is one of Canada’s most respected journalists. He is the former chief correspondent for CBC News and anchor of The National, CBC’s flagship nightly newscast where he worked for thirty years reporting on national and international news stories. From 1999 to2017, he hosted Mansbridge One on One, a weekly program featuring conversations with world leaders, music legends, and sports heroes.
Mansbridge has received over a dozen national awards for broadcast excellence, including a lifetime achievement award from the Academy of Canadian Screen and Television. He is a distinguished fellow of the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at the University of Toronto. He is the former two-term Chancellor of Mount Allison University. In 2008, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada, and in 2012, he was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. He is the author of the national bestseller Peter Mansbridge One on One: Favourite Conversations and the Stories Behind Them. He lives in Stratford, ON.
Follow him on Twitter @petermansbridge, visit him at thepetermansbridge.com, or listen to his weekly podcast, “the bridge,” wherever you find your podcasts. (Photo provided by author)
Mark Bulgutch is a journalist, educator, speaker, and the author of That’s Why I’m a Journalist and That’s Why I’m a Doctor. He worked for CBC for forty years, eleven as the senior editor of The National and another ten as senior executive producer of all live news specials. He has taught at the Ryerson University School of Journalism for almost thirty-five years. A regular contributor of opinion columns to the Toronto Star, he has won fourteen Gemini awards, four RTNDA Awards, the Canadian Journalist Foundation Award of Excellence, and the Canadian Association of Broadcasters Gold Ribbon Award. He lives in Toronto, ON.
Follow him on Twitter @markbulgutch. (Photo credit: Gary Gould)
Click the names below for more information.
Cindy Blackstock is a Canadian-born Gitxsan activist for child welfare and the executive director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada. She was honoured to work with First Nations colleagues on a successful human rights challenge to Canada’s inequitable provision of child and family services and failure to implement Jordan’s Principle, a hard-fought litigation that resulted in hundreds of thousands of services being provided to First Nations children, youth, and families. A professor at McGill University’s School of Social Work, she has a BA in psychology from the University of British Columbia, a master’s in management from McGill University, a master’s in Jurisprudence in children’s law and policy from Loyola University Chicago, a Ph.D. in social work from the University of Toronto, and twenty honorary doctorate degrees. She has received over fifty awards, including the Atkinson Charitable Foundation’s Economic Justice fellowship, the National Aboriginal Achievement Awards, and the Amnesty International Person of Conscience Award. In 2018, she was named an Officer of the Order of Canada in recognition of her leadership as a champion of Indigenous children and for her efforts to build a culture of reconciliation. She lives in Ottawa, Ontario.
Gina Cody came to Canada in 1979 and pursued a career in engineering at Concordia University, where she became the first woman in the school’s history to earn a PhD in building engineering. During her tenure as manager and president of Construction Control Inc., the company was recognized as one of Canada’s best-managed companies by the Financial Post. For her contributions to engineering and to women, she received an Award of Merit from the Canadian Standards Association and a Volunteer Service Award from the government of Ontario, was named an Officer of the Order of Honour of Professional Engineers Ontario and to the Order of Montreal, and was inducted as a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering. In 2020 she was named one of Canada’s Top 25 Women of Influence. She lives in Toronto with her husband.
Robb Nash is a musician and speaker, who at the age of 17 was found without a pulse and not breathing after a serious head-on collision. During a long physical recovery that included multiple head surgeries to fix his fractured skull, Robb struggled with depression and thoughts of suicide. Realizing he had been given a second chance at life, he shifted his perspective and decided to use music to share his story to help others suffering in silence like him. Robb went on to have 4 Top 40 songs before choosing to walk away from his record deal to perform concerts at no charge from coast to coast in Canada. Robb and his band have since brought their presentation to over 2000 schools, sharing stories and songs that deal with difficult subjects such as bullying, addiction, self-harm, suicide, depression and anxiety. They have witnessed over 900 students come forward to hand in their suicide notes and connect with the proper help they need for their mental health. Because of his work, Robb was named to the Order of Manitoba and received a Meritorious Service Medal from the Governor General of Canada. When he’s not touring, he lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Moses Li is a registered nurse in the emergency department of St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver, where he provides medical care to an inner city population as an emergency registered nurse. He’s done volunteer humanitarian work in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Thailand, the Philippines, Iraq, and Bangladesh. He lives in Vancouver with his wife, Laura, and their son, Evan.
Nadine Caron is a general and endocrine surgeon at Prince George Regional Hospital, an associate professor in the department of surgery at the University of British Columbia’s Faculty of Medicine, and an associate faculty member at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. While completing her MD at UBC, she was recognized as the top-ranked student. She holds a master’s in public health from Harvard University, a postgraduate fellowship at the University of California, San Francisco, and two honorary degrees. In 2014, she was appointed co-director of UBC’s Centre for Excellence in Indigenous Health, and in 2016, she received the Dr. Thomas Dignan Indigenous Health Award from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. She is a member of the Sagamok Anishnawbek First Nation. She lives with her husband, emergency medical doctor Patrick Turner, and their daughter, Aliah, in Prince George, BC.
Pat Danforth has been advocating for people with a disability for fifty years. A founder of the DisAbled Women’s Network, she has also worked for the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission, the Canadian Labour Congress, and a number of advocacy organizations. She has volunteered for many groups including the Canadian Union of Public Employees, the Disability Alliance BC, and the Council of Canadians with Disabilities. She lives in Saanich, BC.
Levon Johnson is a pseudonym for a Warrant Officer in Joint Task Force 2, a special operations force of the Canadian Armed Forces that protects Canadian national interests and combats terrorism and threats to Canadians at home and abroad. He has taken part in a dozen special ops missions in hot spots around the world, including three tours in Afghanistan.
Frances Wright is a tireless ambassador for grassroots and social justice. In 1996, she co-established the Famous 5 Foundation, an organization devoted to recognizing women as nation builders. More recently, she helped launch the Canadian Centre for Male Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse when she discovered that one in six Canadian men have been sexually abused before the age of eighteen. Her awards and honours include a Governor General’s Award, the Rotary Integrity Award, and the Alberta Order of Excellence. She lives in Calgary, Alberta, with her dear husband, and is bringing women together to develop grand plans for the ninety-fifth Anniversary of the Persons Case in 2024.
Matt Devlin was born in Syracuse, New York. Nicknamed Matty D, he is the current play-by-play TV announcer for the Toronto Raptors. In his long-running career, he has called NBA games for the Memphis Grizzlies and the Charlotte Bobcats and covered a variety of other sporting events, including MLB, NFL, and Olympic broadcasts. In 2011, he hosted the pre-game and post-game shows for the Toronto Maple Leafs on Leafs TV. A proud Canadian, he lives with his wife and kids in Toronto.
Janice Eisenhauer co-founded Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan in 1998. She is senior board advisor having recently retired after two decades as volunteer executive director where she managed the day-to-day activities of the National Office. She works closely with the CW4WAfghan leadership team, including volunteer members, the board of directors, and executive and Afghan staff in Kabul. Janice has received numerous awards for her humanitarian work, including the Alberta Centennial Medal, the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, the Calgary Rotary Integrity Award, the Soroptimist International Make a Difference for Women Award, the World University Service of Canada Lewis Perinbam Award, the City of Calgary’s Signature Award for bringing international acclaim to the city, and an honorary doctor of laws degree (2016) from University of Calgary. A member of the Alberta Order of Excellence, she lives in Calgary, Alberta.
Follow Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Susan Rose is a former school teacher. In 1991, she developed the Newfoundland Amazon Network, a free call-in service that operated as a support group for lesbians living in the province. In 2010, she was Pride Citizen of the year in her province. From 2012 to 2014, she assisted the provincial Department of Education and Early Childhood Development in providing a province-wide LGBTQ+ training initiative for the K-12 school system. An active member of Egale Canada and the Canada Human Rights Trust, she won the Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Commission’s Human Rights Award in 2017 and the Memorial University Alumni award for Outstanding Community Service in 2019. In 2020, she was made a member of the Order of Newfoundland and Labrador. She lives in Broad Cove, Newfoundland and Labrador.
You can find Susan on Twitter and on Instagram.
Rabbi Reuven Bulka has written more than thirty-five books and too many articles to count in scholarly and popular journals and has had regular programs on television and radio and served on Jewish and interfaith groups. An active and engaged citizen, he has advocated for organ donations through the Trillium Gift of Life Network, which he chaired for eleven years, served on the board of Canadian Blood Services—he’s donated blood 369 times—chaired the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation Courage Campaign, founded Kindness Week in Ottawa, and is the president of Kind Canada Généreux. For all that and more, he was inducted into the Order of Canada. He is the rabbi emeritus of Congregation Machzikei Hadas and now calls Canada home. He lives in Ottawa, Ontario, with his wife Leah and they share children in many generations.
J.W. (Bill) Campbell is the president and founder of Kings Square Affordable Housing in Charlottetown, PEI, a not-for-profit housing project that provides subsidized accommodations for 100 families. Another project contains twelve geothermally-heated town houses, plus one 8-unit apartment building, and another 60-unit project is under construction. He was instrumental in bringing Habitat for Humanity to PEI. He is also the president and founder of Canada Microcredit Educators Group, has received the Canada Volunteer Award and Medal of Honour, a CMHC Concept and Design award, and is a member of the Order of Prince Edward Island. He lives in Charlottetown, PEI, with his wife, Alice-Faye.
Jessica Grossman is an actor and model, and she runs a digital marketing agency. Since her ostomy surgery on January 30, 2003, she has been in good health. She lives with her husband in Toronto, Ontario.
Visit her website and read her blog at www.uncoverostomy.org. You can find Jessica on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. You can also follow Uncover Ostomy on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
Pat Atkinson is the longest-serving female MLA in the history of Saskatchewan. She won her first election for the NDP in 1986 and stepped down in 2011. During that quarter century, she sat both on the opposition side of the legislature and on the government front bench. She held at least fourteen different cabinet portfolios under two NDP premiers, Roy Romanow and Lorne Calvert, including some of the most senior portfolios such as education, health, and finance. She lives in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
You can find Pat on Twitter.
Manny Kohli is the president and CEO of Matt & Nat, based in Montreal. He has received the Sikh Foundation Award, the Canadian Art and Fashion Impact Award, and the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year National Special Citation Award for values-based innovation. He lives in Montreal, Quebec.
Hope Swinimer founded the Eastern Shore Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre, the first privately owned wildlife rehabilitation centre in Nova Scotia, in 1997, which was later renamed Hope for Wildlife. In 2019, she received an honorary degree from Saint Mary’s University. She lives in Seaforth, Nova Scotia.
For more information visit www.hopeforwildlife.net.