Gord Downie named Canadian Press Newsmaker of the Year

Tragically Hip frontman first entertainer to capture the award.

News editors and directors across Canada have spoken, and Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie has been named the Canadian Press Newsmaker of the Year.

Downie captured 39 per cent of votes in the news agency’s annual survey. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau finished second with 27 per cent of the vote, while Fort McMurray fire Chief Darby Allen and Canadian Olympic hero Penny Oleksiak finished tied with 12 per cent of the vote.

Downie’s fight with terminal brain cancer and championing of Indigenous causes helped the singer-songwriter become the first musician to ever take home the honour. Trudeau earned the honour in 2015, while slain soldiers Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent and Cpl. Nathan Cirillo were named co-Newsmakers of the Year in 2014.

Earlier this month, Downie was honoured by the Assembly of First Nations for his work on The Secret Path project — which told the story of Chanie Wenjack, an Indigenous boy who died while attempting to escape from Cecilia Jeffery Indian Residential School outside Kenora, Ontario, in 1966.

The 52-year-old Canadian icon went public with his cancer diagnosis earlier this year. The Tragically Hip announced a summer tour shortly after, which culminated with a live broadcast of the final show in Kingston, Ontario, that was viewed by nearly 12 million Canadians around the world.