The heroes and villains of 2016

2016 Newsmakers: The people, events, and moments that reflect the heroes and villains of the year that was

Actress Tatiana Maslany holds her award for Outstanding Lead Actress In A Drama Series for “Orphan Black”, Sept. 18, 2016. (Lucy Nicholson/Reuters)

Our annual Newsmakers issue highlights the year’s highlights, lowlights, major moments and most important people. Read our Newsmakers 2016 stories here, and read on to see which people, events and moments Maclean’s named as the heroes and villains of 2016.


Tatiana Maslany: It took four years, but after rave reviews she finally won the Lead Actress Emmy for her roles in the mind-bending sci-fi drama Orphan Black. The Canadian actress plays 11 characters, all clones with different personalities.


RELATED: The secret behind Orphan Black’s success? The woman behind the clones

Salaam Peterborough: One of the thousands of private sponsorship groups that sprang up to welcome Syrian refugees to Canada, they took in Family No. 417—mother Amal Alkhalaf and her children, Dalya, Ansam and Ibrahim.

Abir Moussa, a volunteer with the Syrian Civil Defence, known as the White Helmets, puts on a helmet as she prepares to go on a rescue mission with her male colleagues in the rebel-held city of Daraa, in southwestern Syria, on October 23, 2016. (Mohamad Abazeed/AFP/Getty Images)

The White Helmets: Once construction workers, students and barbers, these Syrians are now volunteers who wear white helmets while rescuing civilians in rebel-controlled areas from brutal bombing campaigns by the government and its Russian allies. Digging through rubble, often with their bare hands, is dangerous, depressing work. But they know that no one else will.

Hamdi Ulukaya: The founder of Chobani Greek yogourt actively recruits refugees to work in its U.S. factories, shrugging off attacks for doing so, saying, “The minute a refugee has a job … they stop being a refugee.”

Team North America: a cobbled-together team of under-24 hockey stars like Connor McDavid started this year’s inaugural World Cup as a gimmick, but, through speed and skill, showed what a fun hockey team should look like.

Pokémon Go: After the mobile app was released, a rarely spotted mammal was seen outside: gamers. Within months they’d left their couches and walked 4.6 billion km in search of Dragonite, Arcanine and other creatures.

MORE: How Pokémon Go helped heal my brain

A Pokemon Go user plays Pokemon GO game in New York City, N.Y., on July 13, 2016. (Volkan Furuncu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)


Pokémon Go: Sure, people got fit. But obsessed players crashed funerals, broke into backyards, walked into traffic and even animal enclosures at zoos, all to capture creatures. In Japan two people were killed by game-distracted drivers.

Kim Jong Un: North Korea’s Kim dynasty has personified evil for so long it’s easy to overlook the current ruler’s barbarism. It was reported Kim executed a deputy premier for “disrespectful posture” at a meeting, one of 64 such killings in 2016. Then citizens were told sarcasm would lead to a stint in prison. So no chuckles about his missile-test failures.

Const. James Forcillo leaves court in Toronto on May 16, 2016, after a suspension in his sentencing hearing. (Chris Young/CP)

James Forcillo: In 2013 the Toronto officer killed a disturbed 18-year-old, Sammy Yatim. In July, a judge deemed his actions “unnecessary” and “excessive” and sentenced him to six years in prison. Forcillo has filed an appeal.

Elizabeth Holmes: Her company Theranos claimed to have revolutionized how blood samples are taken, earning it a value of $4.5-billion—until it all came crashing down amid claims of fraud, lawsuits, and botched blood tests.

A fan holds up two Chief Wahoo heads during Game 1 of the 2016 World Series. (LG Patterson/MLB Photos/Getty Images)

Cleveland Indians: It was bad enough they knocked the Blue Jays out of the post-season, but the team’s logo, Chief Wahoo, a cartoon caricature of an Indigenous chief, sparked a backlash on social media with #ClevelandNotIndians.

The Oscars: For years the Academy Awards have not addressed a systemic failure: the lack of diversity in its membership, and thus its choices for nominees. In 2016 whites filled all 20 slots for acting awards. #OscarsSoWhite indeed.