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Why 2016 sucked

If 2016 felt like a bit of a disaster, you're not alone. Metro looks back at the events that made this the year of global human atrocities and celeb deaths.

We lost some beloved celebs like David Bowie, Prince and Leonard Cohen in 2016, but let's not forget about Trump, Zika and migrant deaths.

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We lost some beloved celebs like David Bowie, Prince and Leonard Cohen in 2016, but let's not forget about Trump, Zika and migrant deaths.

If you feel like 2016 was a bit of a disaster, you’re not alone. From back-to-back celebrity deaths, to a U.S. election that will put Donald Trump in the White House, 2016 blindsided many of us with an endless loop of shocking and crappy news. Grab a box of tissues and a bottle of wine (don’t even bother with a glass), and let’s recap the absurd hot mess that was this past year:

David Bowie died

The year 2016 was only 10 days old when we learned David Bowie had passed away from cancer. Within hours, shrines and memorials had popped up around the world. Even NASA and a Vatican Cardinal expressed their dismay by tweeting Space Oddity lyrics in tribute to the 69-year-old rock legend.

And then Alan Rickman died

Four days after Bowie, Alan Rickman died. The world probably best remembers him as the brooding and complicated Severus Snape in Harry Potter, but to me he’ll always be the delightfully villainous Hans Gruber from Die Hard. Rickman was celebrated not only as an incredible actor, but also for kindness.


Did anyone else literally gasp out loud when they heard that Prince had died? The funk and soul legend, and man behind Purple Rain, died of an accidental fentanyl overdose in his Minnesota home on April 21. He was 57 years old.

Gord Downie announces he has incurable cancer

If I gasped when I heard Prince had died, I openly wept when I learned on May 24 that Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie had terminal brain cancer. The band launched its last ever tour, which ended in an emotional show in Kingston on Aug. 20..The show was broadcast commercial-free by the CBC and was watched by 11.7 million people.

Muhammad Ali

Boxer and activist Muhammad Ali was arguably one of the most significant athletes of the 20th Century. When he died in June of septic shock following a respiratory illness, his name remained a trending topic on Twitter and Facebook for days, and ESPN played hours of non-stop, commercial free coverage of the athlete’s glory days.

Leonard Cohen

Hallelujah songwriter, poet, musician and novelist Leonard Cohen passed away suddenly on Nov. 7 in his Los Angeles home. He left behind a legacy of folk music and poetry that spanned five decades. Cohen was laid to rest in his native Montreal. He was 82.

George Michael

To bookend the year of shocking celebrity deaths, as much of the world was still digesting its holiday dinner it was announced that singer-songwriter George Michael had died, at only 53. All that was said was that the former WHAM heartthrob had died at his home in England, and hadn't been ill.

Carrie Fisher

Two days later Carrie Fisher died, following a heart attack she suffered on a flight to Los Angeles from London. The Star Wars actress, screenwriter and author was 60 years old.

Debbie Reynolds

Just one day after her daughter Carrie passed away, actress Debbie Reynolds, best known for her role in Singin’ in the Rain, died at the age of 84. She was hospitalized after a medical emergency while planning Carrie Fisher’s funeral, according to her son Todd.

I realize this is only a handful of the celebrities whose deaths shocked us in 2016, but I need to cut it off somewhere (sorry, Alan Thicke), to continue my list of other news events that shaped 2016 into the craptastic year that it was.  

Migrant deaths

This was an especially horrible year for people trying to flee war-torn countries in the Middle East and Africa. According to the International Organization for Migration, more refugees died or disappeared in 2016 than in any other previously recorded year. Of the roughly 7,000 recorded deaths and disappearances, more than half were at sea.

Global warming madness

2016 was also a particularly dreadful year for climate change. According to NASA, the first six months of the year set records as the hottest months in modern record. The impact was the continued melting of Arctic ice and rising sea levels, as well as an increase in wildfires, El Nino events, drought, famine and searing heat waves.


In 2016, the Zika virus outbreak that began in Brazil a year earlier had spread to 59 countries around the South and North America and the Caribbean, as well as pockets in Africa and Asia. The virus can be passed from pregnant mothers to their unborn children, who can be born with severe head and brain defects.

The Brexit referendum

On June 23, people in the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union, ending its economic and political partnership with 28 other EU countries, most of whom share a currency, parliament, and environmental, transport and trade regulations. Many have called the decision a shocking act of “self harm”, arguing it will have detrimental impact on – among other things – British and Western security and economies.

The U.S. Election

Depending on your political leanings, this is either a feel-good story or a nightmare: On Nov. 8, Donald Trump was elected next President of the United States. My word count does not permit me to extrapolate on the reasons why this warrants inclusion in a list of “why 2016 was a crap year”. In a nutshell, Trump has a history of eschewing racist, sexist, homophobic sentiments, and many fear a president with no political experience – and an unapologetic bully and whose election was celebrated by neo Nazis and sparked hates crime – will be, well, a disaster.

Toblerone changed its design, and people are having none of it

I feel like, at this point, we all need a bit of comic relief – unless you’re really passionate about Toblerone, in which case this may be upsetting. Toblerone recently redesigned its iconic bar by spacing out the chocolate peaks, and chocolate enthusiasts flipped right out. The change only affects Toblerones in the U.K., thankfully for us here in Canada.

Now, before you suggest that I read a history book, understand that I know mankind has had lots of really crappy years. Like 1348 – the year Black Death killed a third of Europe’s population. Or 1836, the year the slave trade arguably reached its peak. Or 1968, the year Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy were assassinated.

We’ve contended with lots of awful years. But to anyone born post-Vietnam War, this past year feels especially rotten. And I, for one, am ready to kiss it square on the lips and push it out the door. Here’s to a better 2017.

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