Editorial: Saying goodbye to 2016

A lot of people weren’t big fans of 2016.

Several of our most beloved celebrities died, tragedies seemed to grip the world and a certain former reality TV star rode the wave of discontent to the White House.

Locally, a hotly-contested mayoral campaign turned sour on several occasions and an oil spill cut off our water supply.

Many will say ‘2016? Good riddance.’

But those people miss the point.

Yes, there were some rough spots in the past year. But it wasn’t all bad.

For example, for sports fans, some teams made history, with the Cleveland Cavaliers winning their first ever NBA title (and ending years of pain for fans in that city), while the Chicago Cubs finally ended their decades-old championship drought with a World Series win.

In pop culture, Leonardo DiCaprio finally won his first Oscar.

On a more serious note, the giant panda is now classified as vulnerable, rather than endangered.

While Trump won on election night, so did several women of colour, making history.

In the world of science, Nasa’s Juno spacecraft reached Jupiter’s orbit. The 2015 ALS Ice Bucket Challenge funded a major breakthrough in 2016, as scientists identified a new gene, NEK1, which ranks among the most common genes contributing to the disease.

That could help researchers find a cure.

Also health-related, Africa was declared free of Ebola and an experimental vaccine to treat the disease was highly effective, which could prevent future outbreaks.

Meanwhile, a potential HIV vaccine was cleared to start human trials.

Even in the bad news, there is good to come of it.

Take the Husky Oil Spill, and the controversy surrounding the Dakota Access Pipeline.

The incidents have thrust the pipeline debate back into the public’s focus. Locally, a review of the Husky pipeline breach has the potential to strengthen regulations to prevent a similar disaster from taking place in the future.

When it comes to Trump’s win, while it can be hard to see the silver lining there, it was a wake-up call for the rest of us to stop ignoring the concerns of the working class.

It was also a realization that we have a long way to go to combat xenophobia, islamophobia, homophobia and misogyny.

His win, and the Brexit vote in the UK, show us that the system isn’t working, and we have to take a long, hard look at how to move forward as a society.

It’s unclear what 2017 will bring, but one thing is certain. 2016 wasn’t as bad as some people think.

Here’s to a 2017 full of growth, lessons, progress and change.