Whoever has walked along Toronto‘s King Street between Roy Thomson Hall and the Princess of Wales Theatre last week on November 15, would have seen the Stars of Canada’s Walk of Fame 2017. These maple-leaf-like Stars were to honour the accomplishments of Canadians in the areas of sports, music, acting, philanthropy, science, technology and business.

This year, the Canada’s Walk of Fame Beyond Famous Gala took place at The Liberty Grand, Toronto. Among the nominees present were three of the six Canadians including actor Anna Paquin, former Olympic sprinter Donovan Bailey, and environmentalist David Suzuki who were inducted into the gala.
• Three of the 2017 inductees were awarded posthumously: singer Stompin’ Tom Connors, communications businessman Ted Rogers and civil libertarian Viola Desmond (who will appear on the new $10 bill in 2018). The recipient of this year’s prestigious Allan Slaight Award was Juno-winning singer/songwriter, Shawn Hook. Past recipients of the Allan Slaight Award included Drake, Shawn Mendes, The Weeknd and Carly Rae Jepsen. All have gone on to achieve international music success. Hosting the event was multi-platinum, award-winning singer/songwriter, and 2006 Canada’s Walk of Fame inductee, Jann Arden.
• CEO of Canada’s Walk of Fame, Jefferey Latimer greeted the Inductees, the award recipients and their presenters on the red carpet. Each recipient unveiled, posed with and signed their Star with a gold pen. Jaryd Stanley, emerging artist Music Mentorship Prize winner, was the first to arrive followed by performer Kayla Diamond. Then, grade 8 student Ethan Young, selected from more than 10,000 emerging artists, appeared and sang the National Anthem. Accepting the star for Canada – a special award for Canada’s 150th Celebration from presenter Brian Williams, was Team Captain of the Invictus Games Natacha Dupuis. The inductee of Cineplex Legends was Stompin’ Tom Connors, iconic songwriter and musician, whose legacy extends beyond 5-million records into the hearts of all Canadians, accepting the award for Connors was his family members wife Lena Connors and his sons Tom Junior and Taw Connors. The award was presented by Duncan Fremlin, lead singer of Stompin’ Tom Connors’ band Whiskey Jack. Singer Shawn Hook arrived later as did his presenter singer/songwriter Serena Ryder.
Legendary sprinter Donovan Bailey, two-time Olympic champion of the 100-meter and 4time 100-meter relay, three-time world record holder and three-time world champion was proudly joined by his 11-year-old son Mateus. Mateus not only presented the award to his father but represented the inspiration of the next generation of CWOF.
• Singer Matt Dusk who arrived next performed that evening
• Representing the family of Viola Desmond (Philanthropy and Humanities) – civil-rights pioneer who will be featured on the Canadian $10 bill in 2018 were nephew Sydney Parris and niece Dawn Millington. Co-presenters were Martin Luther King III and Lyric Bent.
David Suzuki (Science and Technology inductee), scientist, broadcaster, author and global environmental activist, joked with the RCMP when unveiling his Star by having the RCMP hook arms with him as if taking him away! He and his presenter, musician Jim Cuddy of Blue Rodeo have had a close relationship for many years, and Jim was part of David’s Blue Dot national Tour.
• Accepting the award for Ted Rogers (Business and Entrepreneurship), were his family members: Roger’s wife Loretta Rogers and daughters Martha and Melinda Rogers. Rt.Hon. Brian Mulroney’s son Ben who had a close friendship with Ted Rogers was the presenter and joined the red carpet with his son.
• To conclude the red carpet guests were the arrivals of Jann Arden the host for the evening and actor Anna Paquin (Arts and Entertainment) – award-winning film, television and theatre actress, and the youngest Canadian to win an Academy Award. She would receive her award from presenter co-star Bellevue actor Shawn Doyle. Also seen at the event were astronaut Chris Hadfield, singer/songwriter Andy Kim and television host Jeanne Beker and CEO of the Invictus Games, Michael Burns. Attendees enjoyed drinks and socialized before entering the Gala dining room for dinner and the Canada Walk of Fame Award Ceremony. The Liberty Grand Toronto was filled with talent, creativity, excitement, and much appreciation!

by Sally Warburton

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