Hadfield returns home as Attawapiskat evacuates

Nick Taylor-Vaisey on the breadth of the Canadian experience

AP/Dmitry Lovetsky

Chris Hadfield blasted off into space on Dec. 19. When he was settling into his new digs on the International Space Station, Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence was a little over a week into her protest on Victoria Island, and the Idle No More movement that loudly demanded respect for aboriginal rights was in its mainstream infancy. At the time, I wrote that Hadfield and Spence, united by their respective citizenship and maybe not much else, “represent the breadth of the Canadian experience.”

Six months later, Hadfield boasts 800,000 followers on Twitter, a medium he transformed into a photo album from on high, a window into his space-borne laboratory, and a way for the masses to chat with an astronaut. To call him a boon for the Canadian Space Agency, which could use a good-news story as it faces an uncertain future, would be understating the situation somewhat. Hadfield took his country’s space program on his shoulders, made space cool, and returns a bona fide hero. In other words, he nailed it.

Meanwhile, Spence’s community faces evacuation. Attawapiskat is among 10 northern Ontario communities that are in the midst of seasonal flooding, a not unfamiliar fate that sees hundreds of residents moved to places like Thunder Bay, Fort Frances and Cornwall. Spence has faded from the public eye, for better or worse, and her people are back in the news not for their activism—but for the same misery they seem to face, year after year, just for living where they live.

Once again, the breadth of the Canadian experience.

What’s above the fold this morning?

The Globe and Mail leads with the uncertain future for Canada’s space program as Chris Hadfield returns from a stint as commander of the International Space Station. The National Post fronts 20-year-old Jack Wiegand’s attempt to be the youngest pilot to fly around the world—and why he was stuck in Canada. The Toronto Star goes above the fold with the Toronto Maple Leafs’ game six victory over the Boston Bruins, forcing a deciding seventh game in their playoff series. The Ottawa Citizen leads with Conservative attempts to contact public servants at their work and home email addresses. iPolitics fronts Hadfield’s imminent return from space. leads with Hadfield’s accomplishments during his time on the space station. National Newswatch showcases a Hill Times story predicting a major federal cabinet shuffle this summer.

Stories that will be (mostly) missed

1. Wrongful death. The family of Derek Boogaard, a former hockey player who died of an accidental painkiller overdose in 2011, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the National Hockey League. 2. Lobster. Fishermen in the Maritimes are struggling with low lobster prices, new markets in Europe, and competition from Maine—all of which has them wondering how they’ll earn a living.
3. Flooding. Hundreds of residents of Attawapiskat First Nation and Kashechewan First Nation, as well as eight other northern Ontario communities, have been displaced due to seasonal flooding. 4. Downloads. Anti-piracy firm Canipre, which claims to have amassed a list of Canadian client files that have downloaded material illegally, could mount a massive lawsuit.

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