Newsmakers ’09: Entrances

Victoria’s Secret
No longer will underwear aficionados have to gaze longingly south of the border: Victoria’s Secret, the lingerie chain synonymous with romance, glamour and Heidi Klum, is set to launch its first Canadian stores in the new year. For those who can’t wait, little sister store Victoria’s Secret Pink, aimed at university-age girls, opened a few Canadian outlets this year.

Micro pigs

The most in-demand accessory in Hollywood isn’t a handbag or pair of heels—it’s a tiny pig. Micro pigs start out as big as a teacup, and grow to be about the size of a spaniel; they’re clean and sweet-natured, and they love to be around people. David and Victoria Beckham have scooped up two, reportedly at a cost of over $1,200 each; Harry Potter actor Rupert Grint has one, too.

Chinese curling team

Who’ll win curling gold at Vancouver in 2010? China, which just began its curling program in 2000, could be a real contender. In March, the Chinese team defeated Sweden, Olympic champions in 2006, to win the Women’s Curling Championship, making history. Observers are calling the People’s Republic the new curling superpower.

Lottie the Otter
Eighty years after A. A. Milne’s beloved books were published, Winnie the Pooh has a new friend: Lottie the Otter, who appears in the first authorized Pooh sequel, Return to the Hundred Acre Wood. Author David Benedictus describes Lottie as an outspoken otter who’s a stickler for etiquette. Illustrated by Mark Burgess, who brought Paddington Bear to life, she’s a graceful and rare female addition to Pooh’s crew.

Joaquin ‘Shorty’ Guzman
This year saw an unusual addition to Forbes magazine’s list of the world’s wealthiest people. Alongside Bill Gates and Warren Buffett was Joaquin “Shorty” Guzman, a Mexican drug lord. With an estimated net worth of US$1 billion, Guzman heads the Sinaloa cartel, one of the biggest suppliers of cocaine to the U.S. Mexican officials quickly slammed his inclusion as “deplorable.”

Nova Scotia’s first NDP government
June’s vote saw the province get its first-ever NDP government after a decade of Progressive Conservative rule. The NDP trounced the Tories, who were reduced to third-party status. Even Leader Darrell Dexter seemed surprised: “Who would believe that NDP orange would cover Nova Scotia?” he said after the win.

Move over, Lucy: a hominid even more primitive than the famous 3.2-million-year-old fossil is now our earliest known ancestor. Ardi, short for Ardipithecus ramidus, is 4.4 million years old; an adult female, she likely stood about four feet tall and weighed 120 lb. With a brain the size of a chimp’s, Ardi could climb trees, yet walked upright on two legs.

Al Franken

Al Franken was once better known for his turn as self-help guru Stuart Smalley on Saturday Night Live. This year, he left the limelight to become Minnesota’s new Democratic senator. Declared the winner after a lengthy recount and legal battle against his Republican rival, Franken marked his arrival in Washington with a sober declaration: “I’m ready to get to work, thank you.”

Shawn A-in-chut Atleo

In Canada, roughly half the native population is under 25. Atleo, a hereditary chief of Vancouver Island’s Ahousaht First Nation, was a fitting choice to represent them: elected national chief of the Assembly of First Nations in July, he was the youngest candidate at age 42 (and the only one whose campaign had a Twitter account). Atleo is not known to shy from a challenge; in his new role he promises he’ll be “kicking down doors.”

Canadians’ ambivalence to the royals was on show during the duchess of Cornwall’s first official visit, which was marked by inevitable comparisons to Diana’s. Still, Camilla has Canadian roots: one of her ancestors was premier of Canada West. On a stop at Hamilton’s Dundurn Castle, built for her great-great-great grandfather, she and Prince Charles received one of the largest turnouts of their trip, and were greeted with cries of, “We want the duchess!” Camilla, in a fur-lined cape, replied, “Oh, lovely.”

Gabourey Sidibe
Most of Hollywood’s leading ladies are rail thin, but Gabourey Sidibe, who stars in the film Precious, is just the opposite, reportedly weighing more than 300 lb. But that might be the least remarkable thing about her: Sidibe has received massive praise for her brave performance as a sexual-abuse victim, a poor, illiterate teenager who’s impregnated by her own father. She’ll next star in Yelling to the Sky opposite Don Cheadle.

Seal meat as political rite
On a trip to the Arctic, Governor General Michaëlle Jean sampled the heart of a freshly slaughtered seal, making headlines around the world. Now, everybody’s doing it: in Iqaluit a few months later, Stephen Harper dined on seal meat, offering a public rebuke to Europe’s ban on Canadian sealing products. Cabinet ministers followed suit, and it has been added to the menu at Parliament Hill’s exclusive restaurant, alongside more routine fare like beef tenderloin and salmon.

Nadya Suleman
In January, Suleman, a single mom with six children, gave birth to octuplets, the second set in U.S. history. The story quickly progressed from heartwarming tale to ethical quagmire: the American Society of Reproductive Medicine ejected her fertility doctor after revelations he transferred at least six embryos to the 33-year-old (guidelines would have recommended one or two). Suleman was soon a tabloid freak: reports suggested the so-called “Octomom” would appear alongside fellow reality train-wreck Jon Gosselin on a new show, though the dad of eight denied it.

Sri Lankan Tamil ship
After a decades-long insurgency, Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tigers, viewed by Canada as a terrorist organization, were defeated in that country this year. In the crackdown that followed, some ethnic Tamils fled, including 76 who travelled to B.C. aboard a run-down cargo ship. Seeking refugee status, most were kept in custody in a Vancouver-area detention centre as officials attempted to weed out any terrorists. Still, family members were reportedly relieved: “He’s in Canada, so he’s safe,” one said of his brother.

Jacob Zuma
A goatherd-turned-guerrilla leader, Jacob Zuma seemed an unlikely candidate for South Africa’s top office: the leader of the African National Congress was ridiculed in some quarters for his lack of education, for breaking into song and dance while out campaigning and for his three wives. Largely thanks to his grassroots appeal, he was sworn in as president in May. Arriving at his lavish inauguration, where he knelt at the feet of Nelson Mandela, Zuma had just one wife in tow, which must have meant a bit of a song and dance back home.

Amanda Seyfried
Following last year’s Mamma Mia!, in which she appeared alongside Meryl Streep, the 23-year-old rising star has shown off her remarkable range with two vastly different roles. In the dark comedy Jennifer’s Body (scripted by Oscar-winner Diablo Cody), Seyfried plays a nerdy bookworm. And in Atom Egoyan’s erotic drama Chloe, set in Toronto, she claimed the title role: a prostitute hired by a woman (Julianne Moore) to seduce her own husband (Liam Neeson). For those who prefer her lighter fare, Mamma Mia 2 is on its way.


The high school musical comedy Glee is the hottest thing on TV, thanks in part to Cory Monteith, a Calgary native, who charms as Finn Hudson, a dreamy football jock who can sing. He appears alongside the rest of the gang at McKinley High, including the fabulously evil cheerleading coach, Sue Sylvester, played with gusto by Jane Lynch. Once the refuge of lonely nerds, glee clubs, thanks to Monteith and his crew, are finally cool.

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