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Avril Lavigne, Rick Mercer honoured at Canada’s Walk of Fame anniversary gala

Walk of Fame honours notable Canadians in fields spanning from entertainment to humanitarianism
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Rick Mercer arrives on the red carpet for the 2021 Scotiabank Giller Prize, in Toronto, Monday, Nov. 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

Skate punk icon Avril Lavigne reflected on the humble beginnings of her more than two-decade singing career ahead of her induction into Canada’s Walk of Fame at a special anniversary gala in Toronto on Saturday.

The singer-songwriter, who rose to fame with hits such as “Complicated” and “Sk8er Boi,” said it’s especially meaningful to receive the honour for the roots she set down in Canada before she helped usher in an era of female-driven, pop-punk music in the early aughts.

“All my family are here. This is where I got my start signing in Napanee, Ont., I performed with Shania Twain when I was 14 in Ottawa, I did theatre out here, so it’s an honour to get this award,” she said. “This is my home. It means so much to me.”

Media personality George Stroumboulopoulos, who presented her star, said Lavigne had enormous impact on many kids who grew up seeing themselves in her music and persona.

“She never pretended. I remember seeing her back in those early days being really, really connected to punk roots … there was a level of authenticity that’s very hard to fabricate,” said Stroumboulopoulos.

“She should get her flowers in front of everybody. To me, to be able to be a part of that, is lovely.”

The Walk of Fame, honouring notable Canadians for excellence in fields spanning from entertainment to humanitarianism, celebrated its 25th anniversary at a star-studded event attended by household names like 1972 Summit Series-winning hockey legend Paul Henderson and former prime ministers Stephen Harper and Jean Chrétien.

The event was hosted by Drew and Jonathan Scott of “Property Brothers” and Juno award-winning singer Deborah Cox, who received a star on the Walk of Fame last year.

Political satirist and 2023 inductee Rick Mercer said receiving a star on the Walk of Fame is something he never believed would happen for him.

“For 15 years that I had the TV show, I would come out of the subway and walk to the CBC, and I would walk along part of the Walk of Fame and say hello to certain people,” Mercer said of being immortalized in Toronto’s entertainment district.

“I think things like this happen and it’s natural to wonder, is it over now? But I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve,” he said, noting he’s still focused on writing after the release of his most recent memoir, “The Road Years.”

Hockey superstar and Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid said he was a little surprised to receive a Walk of Fame star so early in his playing career, but said it was an honour to be recognized and represent Canada regardless.

“Moments like these obviously make you kind of step back and reflect a little bit, and obviously you have to think about the lasting legacy, things that I want to accomplish still.”

The generation-spanning TV franchise “Degrassi” was also recognized as cast members from the show’s various iterations since 1979 reunited for what creator Linda Schuyler called “a huge reunion.”

Also commemorated was prolific Cree-Metis actress Tantoo Cardinal, who starred in the 1990 Western “Dances with Wolves” and in Martin Scorsese’s October blockbuster “Killers of the Flower Moon.” Reflecting on a career that has spanned five decades, she said the star gives her a sense of accomplishment in both her contributions to society and Indigenous storytelling.

“There’s a lot of healing that’s needed to be done in our community, and so that’s always what I’ve tried to work with,” said Cardinal.

“I put in my two bits and now the road’s open. I’m in a new age and I’m in a new place in my career, and a lot of things that I was so concerned about in the early days are no longer a responsibility that I need to hold on to and carry.”

Hip-hop staple Kardinal Offishall was this year’s recipient of the Allan Slaight Music Impact Honour. Philanthropist and broadcast industry fixture Gary Slaight will also get a star, as will Rosalie Silberman Abella, the first Jewish woman appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada. Pioneering neuroscientist Brenda Milner became the oldest living inductee at 105.

Thirteen Canadian rock bands of the 1970s and ’80s — including Glass Tiger and Loverboy — inducted into the Walk of Fame at a special event in September are also being celebrated.

The 25th anniversary broadcast of Canada’s Walk of Fame will air on Dec. 16 on CTV.





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