Condensing this year into one article is not only a massive undertaking, but also impossible. The start of the second decade of the 21st century has turned out to be an insanely cataclysmic year, fundamentally changing the world we knew only 12 short months ago. Thus, the following recap can only be a review of a few cherry-picked stories reflecting this team’s interests and the world’s most seismic events. The point, however, is not to capture the entire year but to illustrate its absurd pace and magnitude and showcase human resilience. So, grab a tub of ice cream and dig in as we recap this revolutionary year.
January & February
My mom always says, “how you start your year is how you’ll spend your year.” And so, the year began with Australia burning to the ground, the threat of World War Three and the beginnings of a world-changing pandemic. To get away from it all, I, unfortunately, decided to watch Love is Blind on Netflix. I say unfortunately because Jessica may as well be the evil stepsister from Cinderella, and socially distanced dating is just about our reality.
Like every month this year, each day brought on a shocking headline of its own, from scorched lands to a Ukrainian plane crash, to the death of an Iranian general, to the long-awaited Brexit pull out and Trump’s impeachment trial.
On January 26, NBA legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna Bryant, and seven other passengers died in a helicopter crash. Shock and sadness were felt by many as people remembered Bryant’s kind heart, inspiring story, and impeccable skill, which left an everlasting impact on the world. The scope of his passion extended beyond basketball. He was an inspiration to people in all walks of life. His passion, dedication, work ethic, ability to inspire, and desire to succeed came to be known as the “Mamba Mentality.” His death is a reminder of how precious and fragile life is and how important it is to tell the ones you love how much you love them while they are here—a sentiment we continue to be reminded of this year.
January was a tough pill to swallow, but little did we know…
In February, Covid-19 made its way to this side of the globe. As we continued with our daily lives in Canada, the virus began to spread. In Canada, Covid-19 felt like a faint dystopian story. We joked about it, obviously not taking it seriously. Even as Italy’s conditions worsened and they faced an outbreak worse than China’s, Covid-19 was still just a story in the news.
With the world disorganized, Hollywood surprised us all when Parasite became the first-ever non-English language film to win best picture at the Academy Awards. This win was a cultural breakthrough—an acknowledgement of Korean cinema’s passion, creativity, and artfulness. Parasite’s universal theme of class warfare made it possible for this South Korean tale to resonate with audiences worldwide. During his acceptance speech, Director Bong Joon-ho told the audience, “we never write to represent our countries,” exhaling and adding, “but this is a very first Oscar to South Korea.”
February also saw the conviction of Hollywood Producer Harvey Weinstein for two felony sex crimes. The guilty conviction is a victory for both his accusers and #MeToo—Weinstein’s trial became a watershed moment for the movement.
Elizabeth Provost, Features Editor
March & April
On March 11, the World Health Organization declared Covid-19 a pandemic, and life as we knew it changed forever. Just four days later, Justin Trudeau announced that Canada would go into lockdown and closed its border with the United States.
The signs had loomed for weeks, but after the pandemic became official, mass paranoia mounted, and not just on our home turf. Around the world, people flocked to grocery stores and cleared the shelves, hoarding as much pasta, canned food, yeast, and toilet paper as they could. While shoppers wiped the shelves of Lysol and Charmin Ultra Soft, sports fans wiped away their tears after their one escape disappeared. The NHL, NBA, MLB, and hundreds to thousands of soccer leagues worldwide all postponed or cancelled their seasons. Even the Tokyo Summer Olympics were postponed.
As people hunkered down, they turned to shows and movies to entertain themselves. Netflix’s Tiger King, a documentary on big cat breeding in the U.S., captivated audiences and became a dynamic cultural phenomenon.
While March offered plenty of surprises, April said, “hold my beer.”
Across the Pacific, reports surfacing from North Korea claimed that dictator Kim Jong-un was severely ill and didn’t have long to live. Then, a week later, he was fine. Did he fake his death to oust his backstabbers? Was he playing chess while we were playing checkers? The internet seems to think so. The internet also thought it would be funny to make fancams of Kim Yo Jong, Kim Jong-un’s sister, who would be the presumptive heir to the North Korean dictatorship if her brother died.
While Jong-un’s death was rumoured, the Pentagon’s UFO footage was certainly real after being confirmed by the Pentagon itself. The grainy picture makes it hard to discern anything intelligently. And although the government didn’t claim extraterrestrial life, the fact that this footage barely made headlines shows just how wacky the month was.
Chris Berberian, Arts Editor
May & June
The period of May and June was probably one of the most emotionally exhausting times many of us faced.
The jarring eight minutes and 46-second video of Police Officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on George Floyd’s neck horrified the world, spurring massive protests demanding police reform and anti-racism. Tens of thousands of protesters marched in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, leading to President Trump deploying the National Guard to 21 cities. The omnipresent anti-hero group Anonymous re-emerged during this critical period as well to lend their hand in support. May ended with the disheartening one hundred thousand Covid-related deaths in the U.S.A.
By June, Black Lives Matter protests went global, with cities in Syria, the U.K., Brazil, Australia and many more coming together in solidarity while also highlighting institutional racism within their own countries. Videos went viral of toppling statues and graffitied confederate flags, the actions being a reclamation of history and a call to action…
Canada’s Covid-19 cases also passed 100,000 in June, with 8,361 deaths. The Arctic circle experienced its hottest ever temperature record in Siberia: 38 degrees Celsius. June ultimately ended with the controversial National Security Law that China imposed on Hong Kong after months of active pro-democracy demonstrations.
Yet there was some good news. On June 14, thousands gathered in New York in solidarity with black trans people as they protested, and the next day, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that federal civil-rights law protects gay, lesbian and transgender workers. June also marked the 50th anniversary of the first Pride Parade in New York City.
Aroni Sarkar, Associate Comment Editor
July & August
On July 6, the UN released a report that Zoonotic diseases, like Covid-19, are increasing due to unsustainable farming and climate change. A sobering prediction that reminded the world that this pandemic will not be singularly unique in the future, but perhaps frighteningly familiar. Ironically, on the same day, the U.S began officially withdrawing from the World Health Organization. A total of 122,673 had been killed by the novel coronavirus in the U.S. by that day.
As Black Lives Matter protests continued in the United States, clashing with the Trump administration and Republicans, the world lost yet another good man. John Lewis was the last surviving speaker from the 1963 March on Washington, where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his iconic “I have a Dream” speech. He fought hard to ensure the rights and dignity of Black people and people of colour were upheld and protected. Getting into “good trouble” was his life’s motto, and it is a call to action that continues to echo and demand the recognition of humanity in all people.
August really did try to out-do all the previous months because the amount of monumental events that occurred is staggering.
On August 4, the Lebanese capital, Beirut, was torn apart by a massive explosion that sent a mushroom cloud into the sky and a supersonic blastwave radiating across the city. The blast levelled the port of Beirut, killing hundreds, injuring thousands, and adding one more catastrophe to a laundry list of deadly crises in the country.
In the U.S., Joe Biden becomes the Democratic presidential candidate, with Kamala Harris as his running mate. As for the Trump administration, former advisor Steve Bannon was arrested and charged with fraud. Actress Lori Loughlin and her husband were also sentenced to two months in prison for their role in the U.S. college admissions bribery scandal. The shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin led to riots and continued protests calling for an end to police brutality. And on top of all that, the world lost its Black Panther, Chadwick Boseman, to colon cancer. His condition was kept private until his death, shocking the world and his colleagues, and prompting worldwide mourning for the actor who brought black figures into the limelight.
Aya Yafaoui, Comment Editor
September & October
Nine months into 2020 and the world is still struggling to adapt to a “new normal.” The U.S. continued to deal with not only a poorly managed pandemic, but civil unrest and economic distress. Wildfires ran rampant in California, marking a moment in which the U.S. was both literally and figuratively on fire.
On September 18, 2020, the world lost another beloved and influential figure. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg died at the age of 87 due to cancer. You didn’t have to be living in America to feel and appreciate the gravity of her life-long pursuit for equality. The Notorious R.B.G., as she was affectionately nicknamed, sat on the Supreme Court for 25 years, where she was brutal and relentless in her legal quest for equality. While fighting cancer, the pioneer for women’s rights refused to take time off serving on the bench. She inspired future generations to never let obstacles keep them from fighting for what’s right.
The second wave of Covid-19 arrived in countries around the world, with many going into second lockdowns. U.S. President Donald Trump tested positive for the virus after refusing and scoffing at wearing protective masks.
Amidst the chaos continuing to engulf the U.S., Nigeria drew the attention of the world with the “End S.A.R.S.” (Special Anti-Robbery Squad) social movement. Protestors took to the streets of Lagos, Nigeria to protest the long-time reign of police corruption, human rights violations, sexual harassment, and brutality. And the world, at least on social media, was there for them. Millions shared photos, posted, and continue to raise funds to help the country arise victorious in their fight for social reform.
On a more positive note, after a month-long hiatus and tight “NBA bubble” competition, the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Miami Heat to become the 2019-2020 NBA champions. The LeBron James-led Laker team put on a dominant and impressive performance. They dedicated their championship win, and their overall play in the “bubble” to the late Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gigi.
Sarah-May Edwardo-Oldfield, Sports and Health Editor
In early November, two of the most long-awaited news stories broke: the election of a new American president and the announcement of an effective Covid-19 vaccine.
For months leading up to November 3, coverage of the U.S. presidential election dominated the media. I remember being at my parents’ house in San Francisco over the summer and watching hours of NBC—when they weren’t covering the rising number of coronavirus cases, they invited political pundits for their takes on the remaining two candidates. As the date grew near, grassroots organizers and the campaigns themselves urged people to vote. I had received my own mail-in ballot and completed it with my sister on FaceTime, feeling a tiny inkling of patriotism as I filled in the bubbles. The five-day event was exhausting for everyone who watched cable news and scrolled Twitter. Still, my favourite videos came in early Saturday morning, of New York City ablaze with honking car horns and shouts of joy.
Covid-19 will define 2020—there is no getting around it. On November 9, Pfizer and BioNTech, and later Moderna, announced that their vaccines had passed stage-three testing with a 95 per cent efficacy. While developing an equitable method to distribute the vaccine will be a challenge, there was a collective sense of relief as we finally saw the light at the end of this pandemic tunnel.
Paula Cho, Editor-in-Chief
It is currently December 5 as we write this article, which means there are 26 more opportunities for 2020 to hit us with all it’s got left. There are plenty of things that have horrified, saddened, puzzled, and brightened this year. The recent discovery and subsequent disappearance of the Utah monolith, as well as the Four Seasons Total Landscaping press conference, are good examples of the absurdity of this year. The sheer volume of stories we had to sort through in writing this article is also a testament to the massive number of events that occurred in 2020.
As I reflect on this year, I can’t help but notice the omnipresence of a few important things. The first, of course, is the pandemic and how it has affected every facet of our lives. It is not an overstatement to say that it has fundamentally changed the world. Yet Covid-19 isn’t the only plague we’ve fought in 2020. Black death, or in other words, racism, is a plague that has haunted the world for centuries, and while there is no vaccine to this disease of hate, there are remedies, such as ending police brutality, funding marginalized communities, and protecting the rights of all people.
Truly, this year has been a year of death, loss, and mourning. One and a half million people are no longer with us because of a virus. Many more continue to die because of issues that the pandemic has exacerbated, such as poverty, inequality, and climate change. Health workers, first responders, and public service workers continue to risk their lives on the front lines of this pandemic. We have lost too many of those people, human beings who are just doing their job, helping people, and trying to get back to their families at the end of the day.
I won’t sugarcoat it. This year was brutal, and if you’re still here reading this then you are lucky to have survived it all. In fact, surviving this year is an achievement in and of itself. As for next year… I think it’s important to have hope. You don’t need to be optimistic that the world will get better in 2021, but having hope that we will have the opportunity to make it better is important. It is hope that stayed with humanity after the mythological Pandora opened her box and unleashed evil upon the world. It is hope that inspires people to progress and grow. It is hope that keeps us alive while we struggle to survive. Hoping is a revolutionary act, one that is hard and exhausting, but necessary if we are to continue the work we have laid in 2020.
To my fellow human beings, take your well-deserved rest now as the year that turned the world upside comes to a close. Hold onto your hope, exercise your kindness, and remember to stretch because you’ve probably been staring at a screen all day.
To the year 2020, screw you. But also, thank you, for showing us what we didn’t see, and teaching us what we didn’t know. We’ll take these lessons into the new decade.
All that’s left to say is, “Good riddance, 2020.”
Aya Yafaoui, Comment Editor