Old and new inductees to Canada’s Walk of Fame said they hope to inspire a new generation of Canadians as the organization celebrated its 20th anniversary on Saturday.
Nine influential Canadians were inducted into the Walk of Fame for excellence in their respective fields, including sports, music, science, film and television.
Olympic medalists Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, movie star Seth Rogen and retired astronaut Chris Hadfield were among those who received a star on the Walk of Fame in Toronto’s entertainment district.
“I can’t believe this is real life. This is such a huge honour,” said Moir. “We can’t believe we have a Walk of Fame star, and we’re pretty excited about it.”
Virtue said she hopes her and Moir’s 21-year partnership on the ice has inspired a new generation of Canadian athletes.
“I think it’s a great thing for Sports in Canada.” Virtue said. “It’s not just Scott and I being inducted tonight. I think what it represents is the significance of sports in Canada and how people really rally behind our athletes,” she told CityNews.
“We’re so lucky to be a part of something bigger.”
The evening began on the red carpet, where the new stars were unveiled. Rogen received a star along with his childhood best friend and writing partner Evan Goldberg. The pair grew up in Vancouver where they began writing movie scripts, including the comedy Superbad.
“They’ve been walking over my name figuratively for years,” Rogen joked to CityNews when asked about his Walk of Fame star. “It’s about time they do it in real life!”
Goldberg and Rogen commented on their support for cannabis legalization in Canada, adding that other countries should follow suit.
“It’s good and we’re super-pumped and it’s awesome that (Canada) is leading the charge,” said Goldberg.
Rogen, who is known for his enthusiasm for legalization, said it’s possible he and Goldberg could enter the weed business.
“We wouldn’t rule it out. We are proponents,” said Rogen.
The afternoon ended with an award show, which featured performances from Canadian talent such as the Barenaked Ladies. Ed Robertson, the band’s lead singer, said the group wrote a song for Hadfield to perform during the show.
“It’s very specific about the life and times of Chris Hadfield,” said Robertson.
Hadfield, who retired in 2013, said he is grateful to receive a Walk of Fame star, especially when a new chapter of space exploration will begin on Monday. That’s when Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques is set to be launched to the International Space Station on a six-month mission.
“I recognize that life goes in stages and people get their turn. And when you have the oars, you should be pulling as hard as you can, but then you get to a certain stage and you realize you should hand those oars off to somebody else,” said Hadfield.
“I am very much looking forward to seeing (Saint-Jacques) successfully leave Earth and start his grand adventure off the planet.”
This year’s inductees also include singer-songwriter Andy Kim, billionaire businessman Jimmy Pattison, actress Andrea Martin and a posthumous honour for Montreal singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen.
Martin, who was born in Portland, Maine, said she got her Canadian citizenship last year so she could receive a Walk of Fame star. She said the citizenship ceremony was “moving.”
“It was so moving, I could cry when I think about it.” Martin told CityNews. “People that may not have been as fortunate as I have been, they may have had to flee to Canada and Canada welcomed them with open arms. It made me realize how fortunate I really am.”
Kim and Pattison said they are honoured to be inductees for their achievements, but they said they are most thankful for being Canadian.
“Canadians today, with all the turmoil in the world, are actually very well received in most places that I know of — and I travel a lot for my job,” said Pattison.
“Being Canadian is a very positive thing and I’m very grateful that I was born in Canada.”
Kim, who was born in Montreal to Lebanese immigrants, thanked his family for giving him the confidence to succeed.
“They made me realize I could have a dream and never let it go — that’s Canada to me.”