A Year of Change – Looking back on 2015 Year End Review

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Image source: www.clubadelgazabien.com

BY ALYSSA MAHADEO 

With every New Year comes the reflection of change. As the year draws to a close, we find ourselves reflecting and wondering where did that whole year go? What have I done? What do I still need to accomplish and what challenges will I face in the coming year? Change isn’t something that we can plan for, but it is something that we are getting better at accepting and through that acceptance we are taking great strides to the future of our world.

For many, the beginning of a New Year is the chance at a fresh start, following positive resolutions to implement in the year to come. Throughout the world there were many news stories that made headlines, filled with both positive and negative events giving everyone something to talk about. It was a big year for Canada, electing a new Prime Minister to run the country, hosting the Pan Am Games this past summer and cheering on the Toronto Blue Jays in this year’s historic season. It was a year of ups and downs, as well as one of learning and implementing change in our views of society.

Looking back on 2015 in general, it’s true that you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who’d claim that it’s been a good year for the human race. The bad news has been relentless: war in Syria, a refugee crisis in Turkey and Europe, earthquakes in Nepal, terrorist attacks in Paris, mass shootings in the US, floods in India. The media’s hand in the news reported has created a significant impact on all the citizens around the globe. With the news and top trending topics so easily accessible via the Internet, people have found themselves in a constant stream of bad news, opinions and arguments and debates as to what we should believe and who is right or wrong.

The year was off to a roaring start when Vietnam took a huge stride in leading the world to abolish bans on same-sex marriage. Many other countries in the world followed suit introducing and accepting LBGTQ couples everywhere, including the U.S., legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide, including territories. Married same-sex couples can now enjoy the same legal rights and benefits as married heterosexual couples nationwide and will be recognized on official documents such as birth and death certificates.

It is very clear in many events that happened throughout the year, that racism still has an active presence in our society. It is unfortunate to think that after so many years of making progress, it can be undone by a single group of radicals. From campaigns stemmed from brutal and unfortunate killings to women being abused and treated unfairly, there was a lot that went into eradicating and changing the perspective of those affected. The world stood together, fighting for their rights resisting the negativity being flung their way and women had their voices heard above the rest implementing the biggest changes that society has ever seen.  Caitlyn Jenner, made her debut as a woman and Viola Davis became the first African-American woman to win an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress. This year women took strides and spoke out against women’s rights, gender equality and social stigmas that women still face today. Although we have come a long way, women still face many challenges, especially women of different races and ethnicities. The women have banded together, sending out inspiring messages for not only their female counterparts, but anyone who has ever felt different and faced difficulties being accepted by society. It’s about all of us accepting one another and the only thing that separates women of colour from anyone else is opportunity, so it is our job to create more in the future.

In Toronto, there was a prominent change in leadership when the country elected Justin Trudeau as the new Prime Minister of Canada. As the son of Canada’s former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, there were many who voted in favor of a younger PM, however there was much speculation on whether or not he was ready to rise to the occasion. With only two months in office under his belt, Trudeau is determined to prove himself to the citizens of his country. Since coming into office, he has been tackling the refugee situation, pledging to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees by next year. He has been looking into ways to balance Canada’s budget, invest in the skills and talents of our young people to build a bigger and better country. The Canadian dollar had a rough year, hitting an eleven year low at 74.9 cents U.S., thereby garnering the attention and woe of deal searching cross-border shoppers across our nation.

It has been an interesting venture into the world of politics with Donald Trump running for the Presidency this year. There have been many controversial actions and words exchanged that have called into question the future of the country. When Americans head to the polls in 2016 it is still unclear who will come out on top. Donald Trump is currently the front-runner in the presidential campaign and it will be an interesting turn of events if he is trumped.

This year terrorism was a very prominent threat faced by the world, linked to the situations and uprisings in the East with ISIS and the war happening in Syria. The world was subjected to a wave of terrorism, facing threats from Isis to shootings and bombings in Paris. Since last year they have been wreaking havoc and growing in numbers, even adding some Trinidadian’s to their ranks. There have been multiple attacks linked to terrorism, however the world has been relentless in their fight against it. When Paris was attacked the entire world came together to show their support ‘Nous somme solidarite avec la France’, lighting up some of the worlds most famous landmarks with the colors of France’s flag standing behind them, praying for peace and unity in the world. It was remarkable to see how the world came together on November 13th, when earthquakes shook the grounds beneath the citizens of Japan and Mexico, bombings were reported in Baghdad and Beirut, and shootings came to light in Paris plunging the city into darkness. In only twenty four hours it was estimated that the world lost 115,200 heartbeats and everyone came together to #prayfortheuniverse.

Toronto was fortunate to host the Pan-American Games this summer, welcoming people and athletes representing their countries from all over the world to the city. It was a huge production for the city and our diverse and multicultural city was more than happy to accommodate. Stadiums and HOV lanes were established across the GTA, offering easy modes of transportation to and from events, without hindering the city’s regular traffic flows.

For all those fans of the 6ix, they had something else to celebrate when baseball season rolled around this year and the Toronto Blue Jays were on fire! For the first time in years they played some spectacular, nail biting, anxiety driven games that kept fans sitting on the edge of their seats. People who had never watched baseball were tuning in to cheer on the boys. This season inspired fans, demonstrating first-hand how anything could happen. They will forever hold in their hearts the infamous bat flip by their hero Jose Bautista, that had Jays fans losing their minds in that highly anticipated triumph of Game five.

2015 was the year that we got a lot closer to global, universal education. In April of this year, Unesco released a report on the status of global education, showing that in the last fifteen years the number of children around the world without access to education has nearly halved, from 100 million to 57 million. This is thanks to an increased appreciation of the benefits of education to the individual and society, increased government provision and increases to mandatory minimum years of schooling. It’s an incredible achievement: it means that we are in a world where nine out of ten children are learning to read and write. The World Bank now says we’re only one generation away from a world where every single person is literate.

People have always demonstrated the innovation of technology today, coming up with cool new gadgets like hoverboards, cars that drive themselves, nano-architecture and other clever ways to make life easier. Not all great breakthroughs are created equal. Some arrive more or less as usable things; others mainly set the stage for innovations that emerge later and we have to estimate when that will be. 2015 was the year that Marty McFly came to when he traveled to the future with the help of Doc. October 21st, 2015 looked nothing like it did in Back to the Future, but we did manage to implement a few cool new devices like self-tying shoes, a unique and a somewhat terrifying version of a hoverboard. Scientists have discovered systematic breakthroughs with liquid water found on Mars, new ways to predict and capture natures beauty and enhance the products that we have, always coming up with new ideas to apply in the world of technology.

Canadians discovered a new way of getting around the city with Uber, a ride sharing transportation service where independent drivers could be hailed to offer a pre-paid taxi service anywhere you need to go in the GTA. This caused much controversy amongst Taxi drivers who were outraged that Uber could be allowed to operate in the city without being regulated under any laws. Uber hasn’t let that stop them, expanding on their service and looking to implement even more ways to help people get around, offering quality customer service and standing their ground.

There was a change in leadership in the Caribbean islands of Trinidad and Guyana where David A. Granger was elected as the new President in May of this year and Dr. Keith Christopher Rowley was elected Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, coming into office in September. After the elections in Guyana the Progressive Party unseated the Alliance for Change Party led by the previous People’s Progressive Party/Civic Minister Moses Nagamootoo merging them into one. The Caribbean was hit with another bout of the Chikungunya virus and the Swine Flu resurfaced in Trinidad, putting neighboring countries on alert.

In the world of Caribbean entertainment Bunji Garland went mainstream gracing the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine taking Soca music international. Countries in the Caribbean have been working on building up their tourism industries, looking for new ways to bring money into the country and develop their infrastructure.

Finally the legalization of Marijuana has finally reached the top of the list of things to further discuss heading into 2016. It has been almost three years since some of Canada’s neighbors in the south have been able to legally buy and possess Marijuana. Our new Prime Minister has made the legalization of cannabis a part of his campaign promise, hoping to legalize, regulate and restrict access to it. They are hoping to implement this change to make it easier for people who use it for medicinal purposes. The current process of prohibiting marijuana doesn’t work as it does not prevent young people from using it and too many are ending up with criminal records for possessing small amounts of the drug. They are hoping to create and implement new and stronger laws that will be more effective and alleviate some of the expenses from our criminal justice system.

We have come a long way in 2015 and looking towards 2016 the sky’s the limit. Our hopes for the future is that we can continue to come together as a community and stand together supporting each other. A year seems to zip right by and it seems that only yesterday the year began. We wouldn’t have been able to dream up some of the stuff that has happened over the course of a year, so much has changed.

2015 was an eventful year, full of many challenges that will carry over into the year to come. Looking towards 2016 we hope to continue to stand together with our community and the world, creating, enforcing and being the change we wish to see in the world.

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