Who's your hero? We asked, you answered
Written by Michael Weissman

Tuesday, December 14th, 2021

Ryan Reynolds. Denis Villeneuve. Cindy Blackstock. Netflix.

In this season of giving, we're putting the spotlight on those who give back. We sent out an email questionnaire, asking more than 200 Tangerine Clients to nominate someone they believe deserves recognition for their acts of giving. The answers were, by turn, surprising, amusing, and heartfelt.

We Asked Canadians to Name Their Heroes

Two Clients nominated Tesla founder Elon Musk. Several chose Canadian politicians and political activists, or well-known entertainers and athletes. Two nominated themselves.

Others, however, simply chose people in their own lives – a best friend, a spouse, a doctor, a coach – the real unsung heroes whose presence tended to make things a little sweeter.

Many chose not to nominate one individual, but a community organization or a broad group of people who deserve our collective gratitude. This includes nurses who have been “our backbone" throughout the pandemic, and education staff “who have made such a huge difference in our children's lives over the past two years."

Thanking Teachers and Members of the Community

Priscilla from Quebec nominated her daughter's grade 4 teacher, Mrs. Megan, and is compelled to reward her for everything she does. “Her impact on my daughter is being a great teacher, especially with my daughter having disabilities and being on a specialized program. Seeing her interaction and the way she is with my daughter and all the rest of the kids is important for the community," Priscilla said in a phone interview.

A single individual can make a great impact. Folks like Glenn Rodger, who volunteers delivering food for the Newmarket Food Pantry, and recently participated in a “Dancing with the Stars" for Easter Seals, an annual fundraising event helping children with disabilities.

His presence in the community and overall uplifting spirit inspired Melanie Bell to nominate him. “A true community hero," says Bell. “You always know when Glenn is in the room, as he lights it up. He is always so positive everywhere he goes."

Rodger's philosophy is simple.

“I love making people smile and laugh," he explains. “When you're laughing, you're living in the moment and have no worries or grief for that moment. That's what I do best. I get positive energy from giving it away."

Community Impact Comes in Many Forms

For artist Mac Curwain of Norfolk County, in Southwestern Ontario, it's her tireless effort as a “local environmental hero," says her nominator, Laura Rodger (no relation to Glenn).

“Mac spends countless hours of her personal time picking up other people's litter from ditches, beaches, local trails, parks and streets. All done without any monetary compensation, and almost always by herself," Rodger says.

Other than the obvious environmental consciousness, this is a unique service to this particular community. “Norfolk County is located in the Carolinian life zone, and this region boasts fully one-third of the rare, threatened and endangered species found in all of Canada," Rodger says. “Unfortunately not everyone understands the importance of the environment, and most treat it with disrespect."

Curwain says she's motivated to clean up her environment not for herself or her human neighbours, "but for every other species that also calls this community home."

"We are nature," she adds, "and we need to take better care of all of it."

To Curwain, to Rodger, to Mrs. Megan, and to everyone else who works without reward to make this country a better place: a heartfelt thanks from all of us. We couldn't stand tall, and celebrate the season without you.

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