September 9 2002


September 9 2002



After a hot political summer, leadership is on many Canadian minds. But the return of 6.5 million kids to school and university is a reminder that the young are where the real future of the country lies. On these pages, Maclean’s profiles a diverse group of Canadians under 30 who are already showing the talent it takes to get to the top. There are youthful achievers in the arts, sciences, technology, business, sport— not to mention politics. From sea to sea to sea, here are 25 people (including two brothers) who are starting to change our world.


Ask Ben Barry what he wants to do when he grows up and he responds: “How about running the Ben Barry Media Empire?” Why not? To call Barry an early bloomer is an understatement. At 20, he has only just completed his first year at the University ofToronto—with a 3.96 grade point average (out of four)—majoring in management and political science. But he’s already built himself into a successful entrepreneur. With two offices—in Ottawa, his hometown, and now in Toronto—Barry is a fashion industry phenomenon, with about 150 models of various sizes, shapes and ages under his wing.

Variety, besides the proprietor’s age, is what separates the Ben Barry Agency from the rest. Sure, he has the super-slim, eye-popping types prancing down catwalks in Paris and New York. But he made his mark—at 14—when a 16-year-old family friend complained she couldn’t get any modelling jobs because she wasn’t enough of an X-ray. Barry thought she was gorgeous, took her


Eva Vertes was just 10 in 1995 when she read Richard Preston’s The Hot Zone, the chilling non-fiction account of a deadly Ebola virus outbreak. The book’s gory descriptions of how the viral hemorrhagic fever can cause patients to bleed from the mouth, eyes or ears make for an unsettling read, especially for a kid, but Vertes only wanted to know more. She was fascinated that healthy people could so easily be devastated by an invisible infectious agent, and wondered what could be done. “I believe that for every disease there’s got to be a cure somewhere,” she says emphatically. “It’s just up to people to find those cures.”

These days, Vertes, who lives in Dundas, Ont., is well on her way to finding remedies of her own. After The Hot Zone, she read every medical book she could get her hands on. She entered science fairs and, at 15, phoned neuroscientists at Hamilton’s McMaster University with ideas for research projects. Dr. Michel Rathbone, a neurologist at Henderson General Hospital in Hamilton, became a mentor. Last May, Vertes, now 17, competed in the prestigious Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Louisville, Ky. The budding neurologist presented lab results illustrating the chemical inhibition of brain-cell death in Alzheimer’s patients. She took top prize in her category, receiving US$8,000, a laptop, and a full scholarship to the University of Louisville.

Last month, the energetic, bubbly teen left for a year of university in Chieti, Italy, to learn more lab techniques. “Everybody’s like, oh you must be in the lab 24 hours a day, but it’s not like that,” says Vertes. “Yes, it’s a lot of time in the lab, but you’ve got to leave time for other stuff, or else you’ll go mad.” Spoken like a truly sane scientist-with a lifetime of discovery ahead of her.

photo and sent it to Ottawa magazine, which used her in a fashion spread. “I was looking at my friends having self-esteem problems because they weren’t tall and thin like all the models in the magazines and I thought, this is ridiculous,” he says. “Why shouldn’t people trying to sell a product use models ordinary people can relate to?”

Barry’s short-term ambition, besides graduating, is to expand his agency into a global concern. He won’t say how much money he’s made—that’s not what interests him, he claims. “My goal is to make a difference in life.” Long-term goals? Well, there’s the media empire, or maybe politics, or “I could even be a professor.” There’s one former 16-year-old Ottawa model who’s not betting against him.

SPEAKING UP FOR FARMERS Martha Jane Robbins By now, she’s used to the juggling act. For the past four years, Martha Jane Robbins, 22, has been a high-achieving international studies student at the University of Saskatchewan. Since 1999, she has also served as national youth president for the National Farmers Union. The dual roles allow Robbins to pursue two of her passions: speaking up on behalf of Canadian farmers, while reaching out to help those in less prosperous countries help themselves. “We have a tendency to assume problems in the Third World are theirs alone and have nothing to do with us,” says Robbins. “But that’s not so. We need to really rethink the demands we are putting on the environment and how sustainable it is.”

Robbins comes by her social conscience honestly. She grew up, the eldest of four children, on a mixed farm near Laura, Sask., in a very political family. Her grandfather, Wesley Robbins, was an NDP member in the Saskatchewan legislature and served as a cabinet minister, including the finance portfolio, through most of the 1970s. “My parents are both politically active and supper table talk often revolved around what’s going on in the world,” recalls Robbins. She has visited Costa Rica as part of a farmers’ exchange program and, in the winter of 2001, studied for four months in Guatemala, where she witnessed how deforestation has driven peasant farmers off their traditional


If Kristin Kreuk had her school years to live over again-which she does, sort of-she might do things differently. Barely two years ago, she was impatiently counting the days before she could flee Vancouver’s Eric Hamber Secondary School and enrol in university, when life played a cosmic joke. At the urging of her drama teacher, she auditioned and won the role of Laurei on the edgy CBCTV high school series Edgemont. Then WB, producers of the U.S. network hit Smallville, came courting, and Kreuk landed the role of Lana Lang, high school cheerleader and love interest of Superboy Clark Kent.

At 19, Kreuk has yet to escape high school’s gravitational pull. She’s happily juggling two very different roles as Laurel and Lana in two distinct TV series. Conveniently, both are filmed in Vancouver, keeping her close to her parents, Peter Kreuk and Deanna Che, both landscape architects who are, respectively, of Dutch and Chinese descent. Their daughter, a self-confessed introvert, approached her accidental acting career with healthy ambivalence, only to find it’s taught her plenty. She clings dearly to her “quiet, thoughtful and somewhat bitter and cynical side,” but says she learned a new openness. “I don’t think I'd have grown as much in university, because I would have done the same thing I did in high school, which is just hide in my books and study.”

Kreuk says her celebrity carries a responsibility: “I’ve always wanted to make a difference. I know it’s cheesy and corny and everyone says that, but I really, really do.” There are environmental and social causes she wants to champion. But not, she says firmly, “before I can voice my opinion with the knowledge behind it.” For Kreuk, school’s never out.

lands. After pursuing further studies, Robbins hopes to work in some social justice capacity, most likely with a non-governmental organization. In the longer term, she does not rule out a return to farming. “For young people, it’s getting tougher all the time to stay on the land,” says Robbins. “But it’s a way of life that’s definitely worth preserving.”


It’s been a wild summer for 18-year-old Adam Loewen, but after years of staring down batters, the left-handed pitcher from Surrey, B.C., won’t be thrown off his game. Instead of quickly signing an anticipated multi-million-dollar deal with the Baltimore Orioles, Loewen used a negotiating stalemate to enjoy what is likely to be one of his last flings as an amateur. He signed on as right fielder for Canada in the World Junior Baseball Championship in Sherbrooke, Que. It was his third year on the team. “Every chance I get,” he says, “I come out and represent my country.”

Loewen, just out of high school, was taken fourth in June in the first round of Major League Baseball’s draft—the highest-ever showing by a Canadian. A second B.C. pitcher, Jeff Francis, a 21-year-old lefty from the University of British Columbia, was picked ninth overall. Francis is now playing minor-league ball after agreeing to a US$1.85 million signing bonus with the Colorado Rockies.

U.S. reports said Loewen was looking for $4.2 million, the same as last year’s No. 4 got. “I definitely never even comprehended how much money I could be getting so it’s a new area for me,” he said. Negotiations were in the hands of advisers—“I like to keep things simple.” But by last week, there was no deal, and Loewen looked set to start junior college in Florida while still talking with the Orioles—or waiting for the 2003 draft.

As for Sherbrooke, Loewen quite literally had a blast. He was named best hitter of the tournament, pounding out an astronomical .737 batting average. He also returned to his old Little League park in Surrey this summer, signing autographs and encouraging kids to stick with the game. “I just want to give back what I got from the sport,” he says. “Baseball has opened doors to many things.”


When Simon Jackson was 7, he watched a TV report about plans to develop an area of Alaska that is home to the Kodiak bear. Jackson, who’d just seen his first bear on a family trip to Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, was incensed. “I set up a lemonade stand to raise money for the World Wildlife Fund and wrote letters to President Bush and Prime Minister Mulroney,” he says. “A few months later the bears were saved and even though I had little to do with it, the seed was planted in me that one person can make a difference.”

Now 20, Jackson is still bent on working for change. In 1995, he founded the Spirit Bear Youth Coalition after finding out about B.C.’s near-extinct white Kermode bear (also known as the spirit bear). As director, he has watched the organization grow from a school letter-writing campaign into a five-millionmember coalition spanning 30 countries. “It’s one of the world’s first youth-run environmental organizations,” says Jackson, who has dealt with his share of ageism. “I was 13 when I started it and many peers, teachers and even my parents didn’t think I would stick with it. I figured that if I didn’t, I couldn’t

complain if the bear became extinct.” Protecting the bear has become Jackson’s life. With the support of many big-name celebrities—including conservationist Jane Goodall and pop stars the Backstreet Boyshe is currently working to protect a 249,000ha wilderness conservancy on B.C.’s Central Coast. Even his decision to go to the University of Toronto was influenced by the spirit bear. “I felt it was a national issue,” says Jackson, a second-year political science student. “I didn’t think people in the East were connected enough to the issue and there needed to be a stronger presence.”

BOW BELLE Denise Djokic

Classical careers are rarely so stellar, so quickly. But Halifax-born cellist Denise Djokic, just 21, has in the past 12 months graduated from the prestigious New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, signed a recording contract with the Sony Classical label-where she joins one of her heroes, superstar cellist Yo-Yo Ma-released her debut CD to rave reviews and performed at this year’s Grammy

Awards with the pop band Train. For good measure, she spent the year playing a $6-million Stradivarius cello built in 1696-she won the use of it for three years through a Canada Council competition. “It’s been unbelievable when I look back on the year,” she says. “There was no way I could have predicted any of it would happen.”

Young as she is, Djokic has worked hard for those breaks. Born into a musical family-both parents, an uncle and aunt are professional

classical musicians-she actually picked up the violin first, at 4, then started the piano a year later before beginning cello lessons at 8. At 15 she was attending the Cleveland Institute of Music. Now, she’s set to headline at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa and, next May, at Washington’s Kennedy Center. Not long after that, she’ll have to say farewell to the Strad. But look for Djokic to continue making beautiful music on whatever instrument her bow touches.


Like many Inuit of her generation, Sandra Omik, 29, lives a very different lifestyle from that of her parents and grandparents. They grew up in nomadic hunting camps and spoke Inuktitut; Omik came of age in the modern community of Pond Inlet, on the northwestern tip of Baffin Island, and was schooled in English. Omik, who now lives in Iqaluit, went on to be a court worker and chair of Maligarnit Qimirrujiit, a commission set up two years ago by the Nunavut government to review territorial laws to bring them more into accord with native traditions and customs. She attends the Akitsiraq Law School in Iqaluit (associated with the University of Victoria), while also taking care of two children, 5 and 2.

History served up one of Omik’s biggest commission challenges. When federal bureaucrats first streamed into the Far North in the middle of the 20th century, they found Inuit names incomprehensible. Residents were instead issued identity tags which recorded them by an individual number and home region rather than by name. Starting in the late 1960s, Ottawa launched a massive effort to reclaim the traditional names, but many were misspelled and dates of birth incorrectly recorded. That, in turn, made it difficult for many elders to get birth certificates, social security numbers and claim their rightful pensions. “Lots of Inuit don’t know their legal rights,” says Omik. “That’s why I want to be a lawyer, to help them.”

MAKING CLASSICAL COOL Yannick Nézet-Séguin This Montreal teenager was not a follower of the city’s classical music scene, but she had a definite opinion about Yannick Nézet-Séguin: “Il est très cool,” she said of the 27-year-old conductor and artistic director of the Orchestre Métropolitain du Grand Montréal, Montreal’s other symphony orchestra.

How cool? Cool enough to use puppets and multimedia presentations to accompany music the Orchestre Métropolitain plays in high schools, parks and arenas all over town—on top of their regular Place des Arts concerts. Cool enough to wear lime-green metal-framed eyeglasses and


Remy Shand

These are heady times for Remy Shand, the 24-year-old Winnipeg native whose soulful debut CD, The Way I Feel, has garnered him glowing comparions to singer-songwriters such as Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye. Shand spent four years writing the songs and laying down the tracks at his makeshift home studio. He also played all the instruments, among them guitar, bass, keyboards, drums and saxophone. Released by Universal Music Canada and the U.S. label Motown Records this spring, The Way I Feel has received heavy airplay in both countries, earning Shand a spot on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and as an opening act for Sheryl Crow in a series of U.S. concert dates this summer.

Shand, whose early influences were mainly black R & B and soul artists, is eager to explore other musical genres, including jazz, bossa nova-even psychedelia. “There’s so many tempos and textures I could go with,” he says. “A world of possibilities.” Shand would also like to produce other artists and, ultimately, to own his own record label. “Hey, you only live once," he laughs. And while he’s enjoying playing with the other five members of his road band (including his wife, Maiko Watson, a former member of Sugar Jones), don’t be surprised if Shand continues to fly solo for his next CD. “I’m still so excited about having creative control,” he says, “that I kind of want to hog it all to myself.”

shirts with wide rainbow stripes. Cool enough to say: “You can dye your hair a different colour every month and still be a respectable classical musician.” Nézet-Séguin—unassuming, energetic and innovative—is one of Montreal’s bestkept secrets, but not for long: he will appear as guest conductor in Winnipeg,

Vancouver, Victoria and London, Ont. as well as in Mexico and Sarasota, Fla., in the coming season. But isn’t he a bit young for the job? “Yes, it is very young,” he says. “We like to think of conductors as serious old men, but the good ones have all started very young.”

Introducing new audiences to classical music, he says, does mean being hostage to the Top 50 by Mozart et al—at least much of the time. “We also play more demanding work, by Bartok or Mahler. The difference is in how you present the music, how you give your audience a handle on it.” How, in other words, you lead.


For someone who needs to understand the political landscape in Atlantic Canada, Robert Ghiz certainly comes from the right lineage. His father Joe, Prince Edward Island’s Liberal premier from 1986 through 1993, was a good enough orator and statesman to give his tiny province an inordinate amount of influence on the national stage. And Robert, 28, now Jean Chrétien’s eyes and ears in Atlantic Canada, grew up with a ringside seat to watch his father’s political prowess. After Ghiz Sr. died of colon cancer in 1996, Robert decided to put off his arts degree at Bishop’s University in Lennoxville, Que., and see some of the world. But it was inevitable that politics would draw him back. After graduating, he met federal Heritage Minister Sheila Copps on the P.E.I. campaign trail in 1997 and scored a job as her special assistant for Atlantic Canada. He stayed for 15 months before moving to the private sector as The Bank of Nova Scotia’s manager for government affairs in Ottawa.

For the past year, though, he has manned the Atlantic desk for the Prime Minister’s Office. It’s a full-time job: though they won 19 seats in the 2000 federal election, the Grits are still struggling to regain their traditional stranglehold on the region. But Ghiz, who is single, isn’t ruling out following in his father’s footsteps. “Maybe someday if the opportunity becomes available,” he says about running in his home province. “It’s not the time for me yet. I needed more experience. Hopefully that’s what I’m gaining in Ottawa.”


Maybe it is possible to write like a dancer. Madeleine Thien thinks so. “There’s so much expression through the body that you have to telegraph what’s going on, but as sparely as you can,” says the 28-year-old Vancouverite, the daughter of Malaysian-Chinese immigrants. “A lot of people say my writing’s like that.” The acclaimed author knows what she’s talking about. Thien had a dance major and financial support at Simon Fraser University before she abandoned both for the University of British Columbia and its creative writing department. “As a kid I wanted to be a dancer and a writer; but it was pretty clear I wasn’t going anywhere as a dancer.”

Wise move. The short stories that make up Thien’s debut book, Simple Recipes, bowled over critics last year. Praised for their remark-


He was a slow starter—behind the wheel. Damien Atkins picked up a learner’s permit at 18, then let eight years pass before he took a driving test. But the 27-year-old Edmontonian has moved with remarkable speed into the front ranks of Canadian theatre. Last summer—two days before an examiner grudgingly granted him a driver’s licence—Atkins’ Good Mother premiered at Stratford, making him the youngest playwright ever produced at the renowned festival. The poignant drama, his second script, also won a $25,000 creative writing award from the University of British Columbia.

A veteran performer, Atkins made his stage debut at 5, as an elf in The Hobbit at a drama camp. Over the next two decades, the chatty, expressive kid thespian went on to accumulate an enviable string of stage, film and television credits. Now in his fourth year at Stratford, Atkins has trod the boards of the country’s finest theatres, in amazingly diverse roles, from Osric in Hamlet to Godzilla and, most recently, a brazen 14-year-old hooker in the provocative Shopping and F—ing.

But it was Atkins’ own vehicle, the semiautobiographical Miss Chatelaine—a solo show about a gay teen’s first date, written and performed at Edmonton’s Fringe Festival in 1995—that propelled his career. His latest work, the award-winning Real Live Girl, a one-man musical that pre-

able maturity and, yes, spare perfection, the stories landed her on everyone’s list of upand-comers. They also brought her what she calls a “modest” advance from publisher McClelland & Stewart for a much anticipated novel. That’s a considerable burden of expectation to put on a first-time novelist, but Thien shows no signs of being weighed down by it.

She and companion Willem Atsma plan to live in the Netherlands this winter, until Willem, a Dutch citizen, finishes his Ph.D. in engineering. Then, they hope, it’s on to Paris. There Thien, who feels “very Canadian” when she’s abroad, will get down to the hard slog of rewriting her novel. Right now the book, set in East Malaysia during the Second World War and in contemporary Vancouver, is still at that pouring-out, “liberated” stage, she says, “it still feels like endless possibilities, like it could go in any direction.” Just like her career.

miered in Toronto last December, only adds to the momentum. Atkins is clearly going places, though not necessarily by car. ‘T find driving terrifying,” he says.


Slip the words “public policy” into a conversation with any gathering of young people and you might expect stifled yawns. But then you wouldn’t be talking to Alison Loat’s crowd. A political studies graduate from Queen’s University, 27year-old Loat works tirelessly—and effectively—to get her peers, as she puts it, “jazzed up about public service.”

Her vehicle? Canada25, a non-profit organization that she and five friends launched two years ago in an effort to give 20to 35-year-old Canadians a voice in the country’s affairs. Hoping to attract a few dozen candidates for a forum on the brain drain, the group was shocked when it ended up vetting more than 200 applicants. Since then, says Loat, “we’ve been inundated with calls from Canadians living all around the world.” It turns out, she adds, “we were right. Young people have a passion for public life, even if very few want to get involved in the civil service or a political party.” Canada25 provided input on the brain drain for the federal government’s Innovation Strategy. More recently, the group has turned its attention to cities.

Loat left her management consulting

job with McKinsey & Co. to devote herself full-time to Canada25. But with the organization on a firm footing now, she is stepping back this fall to study at Harvard’s Kennedy School for Government. Eventually, though, says the St. Catharines, Ont., native, she expects to end up “in public service somewhere.” Expect her part to be well-organized.


Adam Bly

Stencilled on the white walls of the highceilinged newsroom of Seed, in its “world headquarters” in Old Montreal, is a reminder for editors that blurbs and captions in the magazine should be “smart, edgy, youthful, accurate, celebrity-ish, current and entertaining.” That pretty

much sums up the style of Adam Bly’s creation, but maybe not its substance.

Launched last year to critical praise and now selling 150,000 copies in over 15 countries, Seed looks like many of the iiber-modern glossies that seem to hatch overnight on newsstands. But there are no Maxim-style half-naked starlets, fast cars or gleaming gadgets here. Instead, the

celebrities are scientists. uSeed is the first magazine that intersects science with popular culture,” says Bly, its founder and editor-in-chief. “Science has changed, but the other science magazines have not. They’re still about dinosaurs, molecules, or fuzzy-haired geeks in lab coats.”

All of 21, Montreal-born Bly was able to line up private investors he describes as “high-net-worth Canadians in the fields of publishing, science and finance,” attract upmarket advertisers, and publish name contributors such as Nobel laureate James Watson and Pulitzer Prize winner Jared Diamond. The magazine, which also has offices in New York and London, should reach profitability within three years, according to Bly. He’s convinced he’s caught a defining trend for a generation. “Our readers are not so much interested in science as in the place of science in popular culture,” he says. “They are young professionals and they are interacting with science in their daily lives.”


Amy Awad cuts an imposing figure on the University of Ottawa campus. And not just because the 22-year-old Canadian Muslim two years ago adopted the traditional female dress of her religion—she wears a long skirt, long sleeves and keeps her hair covered. What really sets her apart are her achievements. This spring she graduated in software engineering, earning the Governor General’s Academic Medal for having the highest average. In 1999, she was one of two Canadian students to be named a Lucent Global Science Scholar for academic achievement and community involvement, which included her volunteer work at the Ottawa Civic Hospital.

With such a pedigree, one would expect the Lachine, Que., native to be preparing for a job in high-tech, or thinking of starting her own company. “It would be something I would be good at,” she says, “but in the end, it’s all about making money.” And that’s not enough, she says. Instead, she has decided to enter law school. She now envisions herself practising humanrights law or running a human-rights organization. As for identifying herself as a Muslim, post Sept. 11, Awad says she’s experienced no direct backlash, especially

after she takes the time to explain the true nature of Islam. The top student, it seems, is also a fine teacher.


At 18, Marc Kielburger fulfilled an aspiration shared by many politically minded Canadian kids: he became a page in the House of Commons. At the time, he says, “I thought I was at the height of what I could accomplish.” But that sentiment was short-lived. Following the 1995 Ottawa internship, Kielburger spent seven months in Thailand teaching English and working with AIDS patients. Being there—“watching people die, and seeing eightand nine-year-old drug runners”—totally changed his ideas about leadership, he says. “In Thailand, I learned that leadership means putting your neck on the line for something and not having to compromise like you do in the political arena.”

That is the lesson the intense Toronto native brought to the now-famous children’s rights organization his younger brother Craig established in 1996; Marc joined as soon as he returned from Thailand. Since then, Free the Children International has helped set up 300 primary schools in poorer nations and shipped 100,000 educational and health kits to children in troubled lands.

A Rhodes Scholar who holds a freshly minted Oxford law degree and will return this fall for an MBA, Kielburger, 25, splits his time away from school between volunteer commitments and operating a youth leadership organization that does both paid consulting and non-profit work. Over the next few years, he hopes to apply his business skills to Free the Children and revise Take Action, a guide on social activism for young people that he and Craig co-authored. As for the long term, the former Commons page is less sure: “Life,” he says from experience, “takes so many turns.”


Kara Lang isn’t easily intimidated. One reason might be that the 15-year-old soccer phenom was once a middle linebacker. “I played tackle football against boys when I was 7 and 8,” says Lang, a

INNOVATORS IN CONTROL Vinay (left) and Veer Gidwaney Talk about a whiz kid. Vinay Gidwaney was 10 when he first put fingers to keyboard. Within three years, he had designed and sold his first software product. While attending high school in Edmonton, Gidwaney created a classroom management package that was later sold to schools as far afield as Saudi Arabia. Shortly after graduating in 1999, he came up with CFl-Live, a help-desk product that lets software manufacturers provide technical support to individual users via the Internet while those users continue to perform other functions. The technology has since been adopted by such blue-chip clients as Novell Inc., IBM Corp. and a top U.S. bank. And it has spawned a Calgary-based company, Control-Fl, co-founded by Vinay and his brother Veer, 23, who is chief exec-

member of Canada’s Under-19 soccer club and the Women’s National Team. “I’m a very physical and aggressive player and I don’t fear getting hurt. Having an older brother and playing in boys’ leagues while I was growing up really helped me.”

Few can argue with Lang’s skills. She was one of Canada’s top goal scorers at the Under-19 World Championships in Edmonton last month. In March, the five-foot-nine striker made history when she became the youngest female player in the world to don a national team soccer jersey. To top it all off, the Oakville, Ont., native is also the youngest woman to score in international play. Her goal against Wales at the Algarve Cup catapulted her past American soccer legend Mia Hamm, who achieved the feat at 18. “It makes me laugh when people compare us,” says Lang. “She’s won a World Cup, is an incredible player and has done so much for women’s soccer. I have so much to improve, and just hope I can do as much for the game in Canada as she has in the States.”

Lang has shown no sign of buckling under the pressure of international play. “The only pressure I feel is the pressure I put on myself,” she says. “Playing with older players is not really an issue because I’ve done it all my life.” The Grade 11 student, who has enlisted a tutor while at the national team’s training camp in Victoria this month, hopes one day to compete in the Olympics and play in the Women’s

utive officer. It now employs 35 people.

This spring, Vinay was named one of the world’s top 100 young innovators by Technology Review, published by the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology. All nominees were under the age of 35; Gidwaney, now 21, was the second-youngest person on the list. So what does a guy like this do for a second act? For the time being, more of the same. The brothers are cheerful workaholics. “I’ve found something that I enjoy inherently,” says Vinay. “This kind of work doesn’t drain you, it fuels you to get up each morning and do more.” His only other outlet is motorcycling, a recreation he intends to pursue despite a recent accident that left him temporarily unconscious. “I spend all my time either at the office or on the road exploring Alberta,” allows Gidwaney. He says it with a boyish grin.

Pro League in the U.S. Eventually, she hopes to get involved in sports broadcasting. For now, she’s happy keeping defenders on their toes.


Sammy Duncan has always had a knack for numbers. Growing up in the far northern Quebec town of Kuujjuaq, he was an enthusiastic member of a youth group that raised money for kids by hosting dances and screening movies. Now, at 29, Duncan has made a name for himself in his remote home—and beyond. His entrepreneurial rise began in earnest 10 years ago, when he bought an old, beat-up vending machine. “People thought I was crazy,” says Duncan. “They said people can just walk to the corner store and pick up a pop. Well, today I’ve got 17 machines in the community.” And much more.

Family played a pivotal role in his life. Duncan’s hard-working mother Mary set an important example, raising three boys while toiling as a cleaner at the local airport, a job she’s held for close to 30 years. His grandmother Annie Duncan, a determined woman, insisted Sammy never give up. It all paid off. At 21, he launched Nunavik Communications Inc., a successful cable TV operation that continues to hold its own despite competition from satellite TV. He also owns and rents six houses and offices in Kuujjuaq, built the post office, and owns the only taxi licence

in town, which he leases to a local business. Duncan, whose mother is Inuk and whose father was white, is also giving of his time. He’s been a community councillor for seven years, and sits on the board of the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network and of the region’s radio service, Taqramiut Nipingat Inc. In 1998, Duncan,

who makes a point of not drinking or smoking, was feted as a national native role model by then governor general Roméo LeBlanc in Ottawa. But Duncan reminds young people that he’s far from perfect, and that it’s his drive that got him this far. “I’m not special,” he says. “I just follow my heart and keep going.”

FIGHTING FOR THE RIGHT Danielle LaBossiere Danielle LaBossiere turned 26 this summer but her curriculum vitae reads like she’s a veteran of the political wars. She credits her Winnipeg family’s Conservative roots and dinnertime debates with fuelling a passion for issues, policy and pro-

cess. The result is a career that’s already taken her into the political backrooms of Ottawa and three provinces. “If you want to effect change,” she says from Victoria, where she is an executive assistant to Advanced Education Minister Shirley Bond, “you’ve to get your hands dirty, roll up your sleeves and get involved.”

She worked at Progressive Conservative headquarters in Ottawa while a political science student at Carleton University, and landed a job in the tour office of then leader Jean Charest, one of her political heroes. She also worked on campaigns for former Manitoba premier Gary Filmon, toured the country during Brian Pallister’s failed 1998 bid for the federal Conservative leadership, and held positions with the Conservative government of former Ontario premier Mike Harris. “For someone right out of school there aren’t many other jobs where your work every day has such an impact,” LaBossiere says.

She was attracted to Victoria by the Liberal government’s “sweeping mandate for change,” and by Premier Gordon Campbell’s often controversial determination to reduce the role of government. It’s a “libertarian” philosophy she shares, and one she hopes ultimately to put before the voters as a candidate. “If you’re not satisfied with the status quo,” she says, “do something about it.”


Will Turk hears the question and hesitates. “I don’t want to sound like I’m bragging,” says the 15-year-old student at Grant Park High School in Winnipeg. The thoughtful teen has been patiently answering questions about his genetic research on eye development in mice, and the national recognition it’s brought him. He doesn’t want to go on about the school sports he plays, too. With a little urging, though, he avers that he’s an accomplished athlete, having been named most valuable player in volleyball, best sportsman in hockey and Grade 9 athlete of the year. He plays football, basketball, lacrosse—it goes on and on, but somehow Turk managed to find time to win a gold medal in May at the CanadaWide Science Fair in Saskatoon.

Turk has been entering science fairs since Grade 4, so when Dr. David


The idea of fair trade intrigued environmentalist and social activist Laure Waridel. She was inspired by the idea of peasant farmers ridding themselves of exploitative middlemen to better their lives, but something nagged at her. “I was a bit skeptical,” says Waridel, “and asked myself whether fair trade simply soothed the consumer’s conscience, or does it really make a difference.” So, in 1996, Waridel spent two months in Mexico, observing a coffee-growers’ cooperative that raised considerably the standard of living of its members. Based on that experience, she wrote Coffee with a Cause, which sold more than 5,000 copies. “Fair trade isn’t a question of charity,” says Waridel, 29, “but really one of justice.”

Born in Vevey, Switzerland, Waridel arrived in rural Quebec at age two with parents who started a dairy farm. Now in Montreal, Waridel just had her first child with filmmaker Hugo Latulippe, whom she met during a demonstration against the World Trade Organization in Seattle in 1999. Her energy seems boundless. She co-founded the group Équiterre in the early ’90s. Today, its 2,400 members work for ecological and socially responsible change. She has written two more books, about earth-friendly shopping and, again, the coffee trade. Until recently, she was a commentator on French-language Radio Canada. “Consumers have much more power,” says Waridel, “than we allow ourselves to believe.”

Eisenstat from the Manitoba Institute of Cell Biology gave a talk to Turk’s class last year, the student asked Eisenstat for ideas. The response led Turk to take two weeks off school in February to do the lab work required to study three genes that regulate eye development in mice. He went on

to win top science-fair prizes at the divisional, provincial and national levels. Turk spent the summer in Eisenstat’s lab, expanding on research that could one day lead to treatment in humans with eye disease. He also took his $3,100 prize money, most of it from Genome Canada, and bought a motor scooter even though he’s still too young to drive. Turk likes to stay ahead of the curve.


It never occurred to David Gratzer that he was displaying considerable hubris in thinking he held the prescription for Canada’s health-care woes. It occurred to everyone else, though. Gratzer, now 28, was in his second year of medical school at the University of Manitoba when he began writing a book on how to fix health care. He couldn’t get anyone interested. Even after he’d completed the book, rejection letters kept piling up. “I didn’t have any doubts about my ability to figure out what was wrong with the system,” he says. “I had doubts about my ability to get taken seriously.”

Everybody is taking Gratzer seriously now. His book, Code Blue: Reviving Canada’s Health Care System, published in 1999, won the $25,000 Donner Prize for best Canadian public policy book and is now in its fifth printing. Still doing residency work in psychiatry at the University of Toronto, Gratzer is a sought-after expert on health policy both in Canada and the U.S. In 2000, he won the U.S.-based Felix A. Morley Journalism Competition for his essays, the first Canadian to receive the award. He has a second book out this year, Better Medicine: Reforming Canadian Health Care, a compilation of essays he edited.

Gratzer, who believes governments are incapable of managing health care, doesn’t hold out much faith in the Roy Romanow commission coming up with the right answers to Canada’s crisis. He predicts it will recommend more money, but basically leave the fatally flawed system in place. It’s also a safe bet that Gratzer will be heard from again. lifl

Profiles by Benoit Aubin, Julian Beltrame, Brian Bergman, Brian Bethune, John DeMont, Sharon Doyle Driedger, Sue Ferguson, Danylo Hawaleshka, John Infini and Ken MacQueen.