From unforgettable sports wins, to viral internet sensations, to tragedies that resound around the world, this decade packed a punch. We’ve been through a lot together these past 10 years. Here’s a reminder.
Magnitude 7.0 earthquake hits Haiti in January 2010
The quake killed tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of people. Death toll counts vary, and the Haitian government reports the highest one, saying the quake killed more than 300,000 people. Other estimates are considerably lower.
Millions more people were forced to live in displacement camps because their homes were destroyed.
Vancouver hosts the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in February 2010
The Games started off on low notes, with Georgian luge athlete Nodar Kumaritashvili crashing and dying in Whistler, and the cauldron malfunction during the opening ceremonies. But there were many more moments of triumph, like when Sidney Crosby scored the “golden goal” in overtime against the US, Canada’s Alex Bilodeau winning the first gold on home soil, and many more. Vancouver kept some lasting memories, like the Canada Line, Richmond Olympic Oval, and Hillcrest Aquatic Centre.
First iPad released in April 2010
It was in between a cellphone and computer, and consumer reaction was initially mixed. But Apple still sold one million units in a month, which was faster than the iPhone reached that milestone.
Uber goes live in San Francisco in May 2010
And later it expanded to its first Canadian city, Toronto, in 2012. The company has since come under fire for how it treats drivers and for alleged sexism in its head offices. But the platform has changed how people travel, and been a mainstay in the so-called gig economy.
LeBron James announced he was leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers on “The Decision” in July 2010
The star player changed teams three times this decade. When the MVP left his hometown team in 2010 to join stars Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh on the Miami Heat, Cleveland fans were outraged. Some even burned his jersey.
But after winning two championships in four years with the Heat, LeBron returned to the Cavaliers in 2014. He helped the team win a championship in 2016, their first since 1964.
In 2018, LeBron moved to the LA Lakers, a move that was generally better received than his first departure from Cleveland.
Netflix expands to Canada in September 2010
It was the company’s first international expansion, and we’ve been able to use the euphemism “Netflix and Chill” ever since.
Instagram launches in October 2010
Remember the original retro brown camera app? And all the filters and frames? Many of us have learned to polish our online aesthetic a little more since then. The app spent two years as an independent program, before being bought by Facebook for $1 billion in 2012. Since then it’s spawned influencer advertising, introduced the real-time story feature, and been the subject of concern that spending too much time on it could be bad for our mental health.
Arab Spring begins December 2010
The series of pro-democracy uprisings began when a Tunisian street vendor set himself on fire to protest police seizing his vegetable stand after he failed to obtain a permit. It sparked a series of demonstrations and, ultimately, the Tunisian leader abdicated and fled. Other demonstrations followed in Morocco, Syria, Lybia, Egypt, and Bahrain, continuing into Spring 2011. They caused regime change in Egypt and Libya, but had mixed results elsewhere. Demonstrators used social media to mobilize quickly, although governments have since learned to leverage digital media tools for their interests as well.
Syrian civil war begins in March 2011
During Arab Spring pro-democracy demonstrations, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s government used deadly force to crush dissent. Conflict escalated and the civil war began. The war is ongoing. As of March 2018, more than 5.6 million Syrian refugees had fled the country and 6.1 million more were displaced internally, according to the United Nations. That’s more than half of Syria’s pre-war population.
Airbnb begins operation in January 2011
The home-sharing platform opened up a wider range of accommodation options for travellers, but it has been criticized for preying on longer-term rental housing stock in cities around the world, including Vancouver.
Rebecca Black’s “Friday” was released in March 2011
We bet it’s stuck in your head again after reading that.
Will and Kate got married in April 2011
It was an exciting wedding because Kate Middleton grew up a commoner and married Prince William. It’s likely Will and Kate will be king and queen of England one day.
Planking was a thing in May 2011
The weirder the spot, the better.
The US found and killed Osama bin Laden in May 2011
The Al-Qaeda leader was killed by US special forces during a raid in Abbottabad, Pakistan. He was responsible for planning the 2001 terror attacks on the World Trade Centre twin towers in New York City.
Winnipeg regained an NHL team in May 2011
The Atlanta Thrashers relocated to Winnipeg, and were renamed the Winnipeg Jets after the city’s original NHL team. The first iteration of the Jets left the city in 1996 to become the Phoenix Coyotes.
Vancouverites rioted when the Canucks lost the Stanley Cup finals in June 2011
The Canucks lost to the Boston Bruins in Game 7, and the outdoor area dedicated to watching the game turned into a riot zone. Dozens of people were injured as angry people lit cars on fire and looted downtown stores.
Several business owners boarded up their storefronts ahead of time, and some say Vancouver is still scared to host large public events.
Last Harry Potter movie released in July 2011
It was Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2. And it was the end of an era.
Steve Jobs dies in October 2011
He led the incredible rise of Apple.
Kim Jong-il dies in December 2011
The North Korean dictator was succeeded by his son, Kim Jong-un.
Linsanity took over the world in February 2012
The Harvard-educated basketball player led the New York Knicks in a surprising turnaround in the 2011-12 season, sparking a craze for his talented playing. Fast forward to 2019, and Lin was on the Raptors roster during their Championship season. Since getting his ring, he’s moved to China to play for the Beijing Ducks.
Kony 2012 teaches us a lesson on slacktivism in March
A half-hour documentary by charity Invisible Children racked up 100 million views within six days of its release. Made by three American filmmakers, the documentary endeavoured to make Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony the most infamous person in the world by portraying the children he’s allegedly abducted and forced to be soldiers or sex slaves.
The calls to action included donating and participating in a Cover the Night event, but mostly sharing the video with your social media networks. The campaign was criticized for oversimplifying the Ugandan conflict and not really doing much on the ground to help.
Tesla releases Model S in June 2012
This car featured improved handling compared to the Roadster, Tesla’s first car, because it holds its batteries below the floor, giving it a low centre of gravity. The Model S is still available for sale, alongside the Model X and Model 3, which Tesla launched later.
Gangnam Style went crazy in July 2012
Korean pop star Psy’s music video became the most-watched clip on YouTube at the time, and inspired a dance. There was even a flash mob set to the song that took place in Vancouver. Now the catchy tune’s YouTube views have been surpassed by things like “Despacito” and Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You.”
Amanda Todd dies by suicide in October 2012
The 15-year-old from Port Coquitlam, BC killed herself after posting a video to YouTube saying she had been blackmailed by an online predator, as well as taunted and bullied at school. The case, and her mother Carol Todd’s subsequent activism around teen mental health, sparked a deeper concern for cyberbullying and making mental wellness resources accessible.
Barack Obama re-elected as US president in November 2012
The Democrat and first African American president received his second term in office after he ended the US military presence in Iraq and introduced Obamacare in his first term.
People thought the world was going to end on December 21, 2012
It was all because an ancient Mayan calendar ended on that date.
Harlem Shake trend went viral in February 2013
The meme involved people recording themselves dancing to trap producer Baauer’s “Harlem Shake” song. Usually, a one person would begin dancing in an inappropriate situation, and when the beat drops the video cuts to everyone in scene clad in costumes and moving convulsively.
The original Harlem Shake dance was named for New York singer Al B who died in 2006.
A new pope was inaugurated in March 2013
Pope Francis took over the Catholic Church’s top spot from Pope Benedict XVI. The new Argentinean pope is the first in the modern era not to be non-European. He’s made some progressive statements during his time as pope, including urging priests to be more accepting of same-sex couples and divorced Catholics, allowing priests to forgive the sin of abortion, and introducing new global rules for reporting sexual abuse in the Catholic church.
Cory Monteith dies in Vancouver in July 2013
The BC actor known for playing Finn Hudson on the show Glee died of an overdose in a Vancouver hotel room. He was 31.
Whistleblower Edward Snowden leaks information suggesting the US government is spying on its citizens in 2013
Snowden corresponded with reporters for several news organizations including The Washington Post, The Guardian, and the South China Morning Post. The confidential information he leaked revealed the US National Security Agency was using surveillance programs to monitor people’s activities on Facebook, Google, and their phones.
The #BlackLivesMatter hashtag was launched in July 2013
The tag was first used by a community organizer after George Zimmerman was acquitted. The Florida man fatally shot black teenager Trayvon Martin in February 2012. The hashtag gained more momentum in August 2014 when another black teen, Michael Brown, was shot by a white police officer in Fergusen, Missouri. The tag evolved into a full-fledged movement, with local Black Lives Matter chapters set up in cities across North America.
Nelson Mandela dies in December 2013
The South African anti-apartheid revolutionary died at age 95.
A Malaysia Airlines plane disappeared in March 2014
Malaysia Airlines flight 370 took off from Kuala Lumpur, but never arrived in Beijing. It dropped off the radar just after crossing into Vietnamese airspace, and despite rescue efforts the aircraft has not been found.
Ebola crisis strikes West Africa in 2014
The Ebola virus disease likely spread to humans from fruit bats, and by the end of 2014 would go on to kill nearly 4,500 people in West Africa. World Health Organization figures suggested the fatality rate for Ebola approached 70% in these nations.
ISIS rose to prominence in 2014
The Sunni jihadist group drove Iraqi government forces out of key cities in the country in 2014, and shocked the world with horrific images of executions. In English, ISIS stands for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, although they’re also known by their Arabic acronym Daesh. The group took responsibility for numerous terrorist attacks around the world in subsequent years, including the 2019 Sri Lanka Easter bombings, the 2015 Paris attacks, and the 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting.
People did the Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS in summer 2014
People poured buckets of ice on their heads to call for donations into research on the motor neuron disease, also called Lou Gehrig’s disease. Pete Frates, a former college basketball player who helped popularize the challenge, died on December 9, 2019.
Robin Williams died in August 2014
The comedic actor known for his roles in Aladdin, Mrs. Doubtfire, Good Will Hunting, and many others died by suicide at age 63.
Spotify launched in Canada in September 2014
The service popularized giving users legal access to a large selection of music to stream. It was started by a Swedish entrepreneur in 2008. Apple launched its version, Apple Music, in 2015.
The Dress, viral internet sensation in February 2015
I’m convinced everyone that said this dress was white and gold years ago was just lying for fun pic.twitter.com/ZBu1I77tXx
— stevanović (@supportsteven) December 8, 2019
A photograph of the infamous “dress” later deemed the dress, became a viral internet sensation on February 26, 2015, that subsequently took over the world. An internet-wide debate erupted as to whether or not the dress was coloured black and royal blue, or white and gold, and if you pull up the photo of “the dress” we can almost guarantee you will definitely keep the debate alive this year at holiday dinners.
Mayweather and Pacquiao “fight of the century” in May 2015
This fight between Mayweather/Pacquiao was one of the most hyped sporting events of the decade, capturing the entire world in its midst. Tickets to the match at the MGM Grand sold out within a minute of going on sale to the public, and scalper tickets listed from $3,400 to $350,000, if not higher, and the fighters reportedly made up to $300 million for the fight.
USA legalized same-sex marriage in June 2015
Five out of nine court justices voted for same-sex marriage to be enshrined under the equal protection clause of the constitution’s 14th amendment. Prior to this decision, there were 13 states that prohibited same-sex marriage.
Alan Kurdi died in September 2015
The Syrian civil war had been going on for three years when an image of three-year-old Alan Kurdi surfaced online, his face down in the water as his lifeless body lay on the beach. The image came to define the Syrian refugee crisis and the ongoing war, as the young boy died alongside his mother and five-year-old brother as they attempted to flee. “I thought, This is the only way I can express the scream of his silent body,” the reporter who came upon Alan’s body said in an interview.
Trudeau’s Gender-balanced cabinet in November 2015
“Because it’s 2015.” The famous words that reverberated throughout the country after Justin Trudeau announced that his cabinet would be half women and half men. This announcement, and composition of his cabinet, marked Canada’s first-ever gender-balanced cabinet. Women held 15 of 31 spots compared to 12 women out of 39 cabinet members under the Conservatives. Trudeau’s commitment to reflecting Canada’s diversity was lauded across the country and across the world, with many of the incoming women taking up key spots on his cabinet.
Paris Climate Agreement agreed upon in December 2015
The Paris climate agreement marked a “new course in the global climate effort,” according to the United Nations. “The Paris Agreement builds upon the Convention and – for the first time – brings all nations into a common cause to undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change,” says the UN.
Fort McMurray wildfire destroys community in Alberta in May 2016
The wildfire began on May 1 southwest of Fort McMurray, and fuelled by high winds it quickly grew into a highly destructive disaster. Approximately 90,000 people were forced to abandon their homes as the fire swept through the town and destroyed 2,400 buildings. The extent of the damage is estimated at $3.58 billion, making it the most devastating natural disaster in Canadian history.
Harambe died in May 2016
On May 28, 2016, an unfortunate tragedy at the Cincinnati Zoo in Ohio exploded on the internet with the death of a 17-year-old western lowland gorilla named Harambe.
A three-year-old boy climbed into Harambe’s gorilla enclosure and then was grabbed and dragged by Harambe, prompting a zoo worker to shoot and kill the gorilla, launching an online outcry in support of Harambe, as well as a number of memes.
Brexit began in June 2016
A public vote/referendum was held on June 23, 2016 to decide whether the UK should leave or remain apart of the EU. According to a report, “leave won by 52% to 48%. The referendum turnout was very high at 72%, with more than 30 million people voting — 17.4 million people opting for Brexit.” Although the vote happened in 2016, the Brexit saga continues to this day. The EU agreed to a further extension until January 31, 2019.
Pokemon Go July 2016
If you remember anything about Summer 2016, we can almost guarantee you remember the time that the Pokémon GO craze began to sweep the world, turning gamers into cellphone wielding zombies on the city’s streets. What a time to be alive.
Donald Trump elected as US president in November 2016
In a shock to the entire continent, Donald Trump was elected the 45th president of the United States on November 6, 2016.
Chicago Cubs win the world series in November 2016
The Chicago Cubs won the World Series championship on November 2, 2016, for their first title in 108 years. The team broke their 100-year-old drought with a Game 7 victory, 8-7 over Cleveland.
Mannequin challenge November 2016
The mannequin challenge completely took over everyone’s social media feeds in 2016. The challenge includes freezing in one spot while “Black Beatles” by Rae Sremmurd plays in the background. The challenge was reported to have started by highschool students in Jacksonville, Florida, and then took off on Twitter, launching thousands upon thousands of copy-cat videos.
Quebec Mosque shooting in January 2017
A terrorist shooting inside the Centre Culturel Islamique de Québec mosque in Quebec City in January of 2017 left six people dead and at least eight people injured. The shooter was sentenced to life in prison in early 2019, with no chance of parole for 40 years. The killer pleaded guilty to six counts of first-degree murder and six counts of attempted murder in the attack.
Fidget spinners took off in January 2017
While toy trends change with the seasons, fidget spinners were one thing that left a lasting impression — and not just with children. In early 2017, nearly everyone was spinning the toy that ended up in stores everywhere, with some schools even banning the popular item because it was distracting students.
#MeToo movement hits social media in 2017
TIME magazine named the “silence breakers” behind #MeToo 2017’s “Person of the Year,” after a number of women came forward to speak out against sexual abuse and harassment with the hashtag #MeToo. The hashtag was created by Taranna Burke, an activist who began using the phrase #MeToo on social media to raise awareness for the pervasiveness of sexual abuse and assault in society.
Full solar eclipse in August 2017
On August 21, the moon blocked the sun completely, causing a total solar eclipse, which according to NASA, was the first time in 99 years this event took place. Lucky for us, this time we don’t have to wait nearly 100 more years, because on April 8, 2024, the next solar eclipse is set to occur. Maybe buy your eclipse glasses in advance because, well — we all know how that went last time.
Charlottesville, Virginia White Supremacy protests in August 2017
In August 2017 the ‘Unite the Right’ rally was held in Charlottesville, VA, which saw neo-Nazis, the KKK, and other far-right hate groups marching in the streets causing violent clashes between alt-right protesters and counter-protesters. This eventually led to the killing of young anti-racist activist Heather Heyer, after a man accelerated his car into a crowd of counter-protesters. Many others were injured.
Gord Downie dies October 2017
Tragically Hip lead singer and legendary Canadian Gord Downie died on October 18, 2017.
The lead singer was diagnosed with glioblastoma – an aggressive type of brain tumour, and soon after he started a fund for brain cancer research at Sunnybrook Hospital, appropriately called the Gord Downie Fund for Brain Cancer Research.
People were eating Tide Pods for some reason in January 2018
No one really knows why, but eating Tide Pods went viral on social media, with videos appearing online of people biting into the square shaped liquid detergent pods. The meme became popular amongst teenagers in early 2018, causing an increase in poisoning incidents. Glad that’s over.
Humboldt Broncos bus crash in April 2018
A bus carrying a Canadian junior hockey team collided with a tractor-trailer in April of 2018 in Saskatchewan, killing 14 people and injuring 15 others. Humboldt Broncos is a name now known across the entire country due to the way the tragic story resonated in Canada and globally. The truck driver who was operating the semi-truck that collided with the bus was charged in early 2019.
Toronto van attack in April 2018
A van attack in April of 2018 in Toronto killed 10 people and sent 15 to hospital with injuries. During the incident, a white van mounted the curb and struck pedestrians walking along the sidewalk at the busy intersection of Yonge Street and Finch Avenue.
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry got married in May 2018
American Actress Meghan Markle married into the Royal family in May of 2018 when she and Prince Harry officially tied the knot, making them the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Their marriage made Meghan Markle the first mixed-race person to marry into the royal family.
Canada legalized cannabis in October 2018
Canada became the second country in the world to legalize cannabis on October 17, 2018. On that day, Canada became the first G7 nation to allow the drug for recreational use from coast to coast.
Baby shark went viral in January 2019 and never went away
Love it or hate it — you just can’t get away from it. The now infamous children’s song and educational video “baby-shark” five billion views as of January 2019, making it the most-viewed educational video phenomenon of all time. There’s no surprise that the viral phenomenon continues to be viewed to this day, and probably isn’t going anywhere.
We saw the first photo of the black hole in April 2019
An international team of scientists and astronomers gave humanity its first-ever look at a black hole in April of 2019. The breakthrough in astrophysics gave humanity insight into the celestial monster known as a black hole, a collection of collapsed stars so powerful that space and time become distorted.
Hong Kong protests began in June of 2019
Protests have been ongoing in Hong Kong since June, and the unrest against the extradition law has now grown into a much broader pro-democracy movement, sparking solidarity protests all over Canada and other parts of the world.
Canada Manhunt Summer 2019
Two men from BC became the subjects of a country-wide manhunt after three murders in BC. Following the murders, a Camada-wide manhunt began for suspects Kam McLeod, and Bryer Schmegelsky, who slowly began to make their way out of BC and towards the east, before their bodies were found in Manitoba at the end of the Summer.
Baby Yoda takes over the world in November 2019
Baby Yoda is currently a hugely popular meme. The character made his debut on November 12 in The Mandalorian, a release on the Disney+ video streaming platform. Because of his adorably portrayed persona, he has taken the internet by storm.