Canada’s leaders-inwaiting are already contributing to the world they’re primed to inherit

September 8 2003


Canada’s leaders-inwaiting are already contributing to the world they’re primed to inherit

September 8 2003



Canada’s leaders-inwaiting are already contributing to the world they’re primed to inherit


Nicolas Macrozonaris is on a roll. In May, he ran his personal best, 100 m in 10.03 seconds, beating out U.S. world record holder Tim Montgomery. Then, a rare double gold (in the 100-m and 200-m) at the national championships in July secured the Laval, Que., native a starting block at the 2004 Olympics in Athens. Finally, Reebok’s new Nicolas 1980 spikes are emblazoned with the maple leaf and his year of birth. After all, he quips, “how many 23-year-olds have their own shoe?”

Vancouver’s Eom-Ji Park wasn’t a child golf phenom like Tiger Woods, but she was a fast learner. Eight months after taking up the game at 12, she walked away with her club’s championship. Now 18, she won an unprecedented fourth consecutive Pacific title (for players from B.C. and Alberta) this year and competed in her second LPGA tournament. The only junior among 144 players at the Canadian Women’s Open, Park tied for 43rd—and proved there’s more than one way to earn your stripes.

Run—and jump—girl, run! Perdita Feiiden, 23, did that faster than anyone else last week

winning the 100-m hurdles at the world championships. Voted U.S. college female track-and-field athlete of the year twice (2001 and 2003), the University of Illinois kinesiology student from Pickering, Ont., is priming for Canada’s team at the Olympics. Not bad for someone who, she says, in high school “avoided running hurdles at all costs.”


Twenty-four-year-old peacenik Crystal Procyshen has volunteered in some of the world’s hottest spots, including Israel and Egypt. Now, the Wetaskiwin, Alta., native is one of 10 Rotary World Peace Scholars—and the only Canadian—studying for a master’s at Tokyo’s International Christian University Peace Research Institute. Her future, she says, is in mediating conflicts over natural resources in the Middle East. Now that’s hot.

Although Jamaican-born Toronto youth activist Kevin King has won stacks of leadership awards, he pointedly draws attention to his failures—in student elections, sports and public speaking. Adversity, he says, breeds success. These days, the 23year-old gives a hand up through the Rexdale Foundation, an organization he helped establish and chairs. The foundation is raising funds to help local youth pay for postsecondary education—the “one thing,” he says, “that can provide hope.”

Candace Carnahan lost her left leg in 1999 to a conveyor belt in a paper mill where she worked that summer. Now, the 25-yearold from Miramichi, N.B., is doing her best to increase awareness of workplace safety issues. With 62,000 young Canadians injured at work in 2001—some 60 of them fatally— she and her Halifax-based group, Passport to Safety, sadly have a lot of ground to cover.

Greg Dietrich spent his 10th Christmas glued to a book his dad gave him: Who’s Who of Dairy Cattle. That’s how much the budding bovine geneticist from Mildmay,

Ont.,—now 18 and a Millennium scholar at the University of Guelph—loves cows and forming. After the 2000 Walkerton, Ont., E. coli tragedy, he spearheaded a 4-H Canada project on water management and quality. Living off the land is a lifestyle worth preserving, says Dietrich, but he acknowledges “it’s a difficult time for farming.”

Roxanne Lai believes in taking the road less travelled. The erstwhile goatherd, house builder, piano teacher, organic tea cultivator and facilitator of workshops for schizophrenics, is entering medical school this fall at Queen’s University. The 22-year-old award-

winning scholar from Guelph, Ont., says she’ll parlay that mixed bag of experiences into a medical career that supports peace initiatives around the world.

After stealing the show in 1992 with a tearjerker of a speech at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Sev* rnC S ,24,

has consulted with Kofi Annan of the UN and other leaders on ecological and social justice issues. The Yale University-educated Vancouverite is the founder of Skyfish Project,

an environmental group whose “Recognition of Responsibility”—a set of life principles to better our world—has been signed by thousands internationally.

Kayak guide Mikael Rioux, 27, from TroisPistoles, Que., rescued a drowning man and three children in the St. Lawrence River in July 2001. But when the province tried to honour his bravery, he turned down the medal and accompanying $500. Instead, he used the occasion to draw attention to HydroQuébec mini-dams threatening to wreak havoc with the environment. Eight days later, then-premier Bernard Landry put the

kibosh on future mini-dams. Sometimes it pays to just say no.

A member of the Onigaming First Nation in northwestern Ontario, Jeffrey Copenace, 25, showed fine political instincts in 2001, signing on with Liberal leadership shoo-in Paul Martin. He hopes to ascend the Hill with his boss and then earn a master’s in business or economics from Harvard before returning home to launch his own political career.


When she was young, Laura Lucier would pretend to pilot cardboard spaceships around her basement. At 27, the University of Calgary grad now works for the Canadian Space Agency. An expert in “low-earth orbit material degradation,” Lucier says the Columbia tragedy reinforced a valuable lesson: “Regardless of how much you think you know, there’s always more to learn.”

In 1988, Patricia and Janice Cuthbert took to their garden’s flowers with the bristles of tiny paintbrushes to experiment in cross-pollination. Their efforts produced a white-eyed cerise geranium and two careers in plant breeding. Today, the 28and 29-year-

old Winnipeggers are working with a less delicate crop. In the process, they’ve racked up some 20 awards and $200,000 in prize money for doctoral research at the University of Manitoba that aims to increase the quality of Canada’s No. 1 export: wheat.

This year, 18-year-old Montrealer Añila Madiraju has won nearly $85,000 in scholarships for her cancer research. Her latest work, “Silencing Cancer With RNA,” proposes new, less toxic treatments for the disease. When she’s away from the lab, Madiraju plays the violin, is putting the finishing touches on a novel and is planning for med school. Not bad, considering she’s still attending CEGER

Astro-nut Jonathan Sick wants to fly to Mars. Until then, the 17-year-old Calgarian is working on a telescope that would give amateur stargazers professional results. After taking home several Intel science and engineering awards worth $6,000 for his proposal last May, he’s now finishing the device while still hoping one day to see the red planet from the window of his spaceship.

University of Sherbrooke doctoral candidate François Légaré discovered quantum

mechanics was his bag after his dad advised him when he was an undergrad to hit the books. Now, the 26-year-old holds the world record for the fastest molecular motion ever observed and last year published two papers in the prestigious science journal Nature.

Last May, Claire Pritchard won $18,500 in prizes and scholarships at the Youth Science Foundation Canada national science fair—including best in the fair. Herwinning work documented the safety risks associated with cellphone use while driving. Now, the Thompson, Man., student’s main goal is to grow taller than her five-foot, threeinch frame. That shouldn’t be too hard. She’s only 13.

Most students find it tough to fill a two-page resumé. Not 26-year-old Benjamin Berger. The University of Victoria grad’s list of accolades stretches over nine pages. Currently doing a master of laws at Yale University in New Haven, Conn., Berger spent the last year as a law clerk to Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin. That’s worth a few lines on a c.v. The rest comes from penning 11 academic articles and an array of awards, scholarships and fellowships.

Good work and good works. That’sJennifer Zwarych.The University of Saskatchewan engineering student is studying brain tumours at the National Research Council’s Institute for Biodiagnostics in Winnipeg, helping to develop groundbreaking treatment methods that will circumvent the need for invasive surgery. Zwarych, 20, also coaches basketball and teaches piano to innercity students. Good indeed.

Montrealer Catherine Beauchemin, 23, sees similarities between ant farms and the human immune system—they’re both selforganizing systems. Now the University of Alberta Ph.D. candidate is the youngest member of a scientific team developing a computer program to better understand how the body recognizes a viral invader like SARS, another self-organizing system. Her passion for pure science is, she says, “infectious.”

Deriving mathematical models one day and wading through hip-deep mud the next is typical of Robert Radovanovic’s schedule. But that’s what it takes to survey Canadian geography as well as monitor structural shifts in dams and power plants. And with 15 published papers and countless awards under his belt, the 26-year-old doctor of geomatics (applying computer technology to geographical systems) should

have no trouble attracting clients to his new Calgary engineering company.


Touring the continent as lead man in Disney’s Aida, Jeremy Kushnier hawks his selfproduced rock album between shows. The 27-year-old Winnipegger’s stage career took off in 1998 when reviewers gushed over his Broadway performance as the lead in Footloose. Now, he’s working on a second album— with his theatre fans sure to boost sales.

Jean-Philippe Tremblay founded his own chamber orchestra at 19. That was before

he’d earned a master’s in music performance from the Université de Montréal, a viola diploma from London’s Royal Academy of Music and a reputation as one of the finest young conductors in the country. Now others ask the 25-year-old native of Chicoutimi, Que., to work for them—most recently, the prestigious youth ensemble, L’orchestre de la francophonie canadienne.

Former Mousketeer Ryan Gosling just keeps getting hotter. Look for the 22-year-

old Cornwall, Ont., native in three new Hollywood releases: Stay, by Monster’s Ball director Marc Forster; The United States of Leland, in which he plays opposite Kevin Spacey; and The Notebook, also starring Gena Rowlands and James Garner. He won’t be hard to spot—he’s lead man in all three.

In February, the Cottars won the East Coast Music Award for Best New Artist. Comprised of two sets of Cape Breton siblings—Ciarán , 15, and Fiona MacGillivray, 14, along with Jimmy, 16, and Roseanne MacKenzie, 13-the Celtic band has entertained audiences across the continent,

marking a coloured pin on a map for every city they visit. With gigs set for Denmark, Japan and Scotland next year, says Fiona, “I guess we’ll need a bigger map.”

Leela Giiday’s debut album, Spirit World, Solid Wood, melds traditional Aboriginal sounds with jazz and pop, offering up a host of mournful northern gems. The 28-year-old Dene singer-songwriter, who won three Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards last year, now plans to establish a studio in Yellowknife, her hometown.

Movie actress Jane McGregor packs a powerful punch, whether playing a sombre pregnant teenager in the Canadian slice-oflife drama Flower & Gamet or a bamboozled cheerleader in the comedy Slap Her... She’s French. But the 21-year-old Vancouverite sees a role for herself behind the camera as well, one day taking creative control with her own production company.

Soprano Shannon Mercer, 26, cut her chops as a young girl belting out folk songs for the Ottawa Welsh Society. She had no idea what she was singing, but still stole the show. Now, after performing a lead role in the Canadian Opera Company’s production last season of Verdi’s AMaskedBall, the native of Manotick, Ont., still captivates her audience— and she now has a firm grasp of her material.

Country singer Aaron Lines has found success in his new home in Nashville, the capital of the “hurting music” world. Now 25, with a 2002 Juno Award (Best New Country Artist) and an RCA Records contract behind him, the Fort McMurray, Alta., native is living proof of his North American Top 10 single, You Can’t Hide Beautiful.

Laura Siiberberg is the envy of her friends. While they’re pulling in minimum wage, the 16-year-old makes $30 an hour teaching piano. But that’s the least of her accomplishments. The award-winning Toronto native has also performed her own compositions on CBC Radio and on stages in Canada, the U.S. and Japan. “I have perfect pitch and a gift for melody,” she says.

When lobster season opened in April in the Acadian fishing community of TracadieSheila, N.B., Wilfred LeBouthillier wasn’t at his usual place at the helm of his boat. Instead, the soulful, bluesy 25-year-old singer was basking in the glory of winning Star Académie, Quebec’s version of American Idol—and a recording contract for a CD this fall. For this lobster fisherman, its definitely been a good season.

Tiyaila Cain-Grant’s powerful pipes make her a shoo-in as a future gospel-singing star. The talented 15-year-old from North Preston, N.S., is already the recipient of rave reviews and abundant awards—including, when she was 11, winning Harlem’s Apollo Theater long-standing Saturday night contest. Heading into her senior year of high school, she’s hoping to clamp down on both a diploma and a professional singing career.

After Tracey MacDonald bagged the 2003 CBS Star Search grand championship, the 29year-old comedian from Dartmouth, N.S., used some of the US$200,000 prize money

to set up house in Hollywood. There, she’ll take advantage of a development deal with the network to pitch a sitcom. Last year, MacDonald remembers, friends called her the “most unsuccessful person under 30.”


Author Sheila Heti’s monthly lecture series draws all the “cool” kids in Toronto to hear each other speak on everything from the number 32 to 18th-century female poisoners. Heti rarely takes the mike, but rather saves her quirky ideas for the page: the heroes in her critically acclaimed collection of short stories, The Middle Stories, include a suicidal giant, a dumpling and a man who falls in love with a monkey. Next up for the 27-year-old literary groundbreaker is a novel and a musical—no doubt infusing more welcome oddity into the Canadian arts scene.

With major exhibitions in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver, 28-year-old artist Pascal Grandmaison is gearing up for a busy fall. The native Montrealer works primarily with photographs and video because of the space they put between artist and subject. “Painters are very close to their work,” says Grandmaison. “The medium doesn’t allow them not to be, but I enjoy playing with the distance.”

Vancouver author Steven Galloway, 28, soars above the CanLit kinder-crop with his second novel, Ascension, about the vanishing world of the big top. Rights to the bookpublished in the spring to rave reviews— have been sold in seven other countries. Don’t be surprised to see the University of British Columbia creative writing teacher on a couple of major award short lists this fall.

Lots of folks have high hopes for Aidan Johnson. He’s been called a future PM, “one of the greatest writers of his generation,” and the “next Oscar Wilde.” But the 23year-old former newspaperman (at 16, he was a Southam columnist), 2002 North American public speaking champ and Fulbright scholar is as humble as they come: this summer, he co-managed a reading club for kids in hometown Hamilton. “The only things that seem truly important,” he says, “are stories and children.”


Not all tech stocks are duds. Take Charlottetown-based Timeless Technologies Inc., founded by Justin MacLeod. Its flourishing reputation at home and abroad has landed the 29year-old computer whiz from Uigg, P.E.I., numerous business awards—recognition, perhaps, that he’s indeed realizing his lofty goal: “To serve my God, my community and my province to the best of my ability.”

Naomi and Jonathan Hiltz’s parents used to dump them at the movies while they went shopping on the weekends. Now, the 26and 28-year-old Toronto siblings make their own films. His, Exoneration, wrapped up last week, while her first feature, Jack’s House, won two 2001 New York International Independent Film & Video Festival awards. With a TV series in the works, Hiltz Squared Media Group Inc., which also includes a record label and publishing house may realize its motto: “In 2095, we will have entertained the world for 100 years.”

What does one do with all the dung that cows produce? Ben Voss, 28, from Spiritwood, Sask., and founder of Saskatoonbased Clear-Green Environmental Inc., has an answer. He transforms the stuff into biogas, a source of electricity and heat, turning dung into dollars and greening the planet at the same time. 171

Profiles by Benoit Aubin, Brian Bergman, Amy Cameron, John DeMont, Shanda Deziel, Jonathan Durbin, John Intini, Sarah Leach, Ken MacQueen and Julie Mollins