Alessia Cara says getting recognition at this year’s Canada’s Walk of Fame gala event ranks among the most tremendous honours she’s received in her career.
“I feel like getting acknowledged by your own country in this way is huge,” the 23-year-old performer said on the red carpet before she received the special 2019 Allan Slaight Music Impact honour on Saturday night.
“It’s one of those things where I’m going to have to see it to actually believe it.”
The Grammy and Juno award-winning pop singer was among a group of Canadians being recognized for excellence in their respective fields, which include science, sports, entertainment and business.
Eight other influential names were inducted into the Walk of Fame at the gala dinner and will be given a star in Toronto’s entertainment district. They include architect Frank Gehry, hockey player Mark Messier, investor Jim Treliving, and speed skater Cindy Klassen.
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“When I look at all the inductees, these are Canadians that have made such a difference in the world,” Klassen said.
“It’s incredible to be a part of that, a very humbling experience.”
Fellow inductee Will Arnett, whose work on “Arrested Development” and “Bojack Horseman” has ushered him into the echelons of comedy fame, said he’s honoured the organizers considered him worthy — but he has a few suggestions for future ceremonies to spice up the Canadiana.
First, he’d change their name to “The Sorrys,” and then he’d redesign the evening wear.
“Instead of just a regular tuxedo, if we wore Canadian tuxedos that would be better,” he said, pitching the combo of denim jeans and jackets.
As for the red carpet, he’d like to see a Zamboni crawling across it before the big show.
“They should have an ice carpet,” said the proud Toronto Maple Leafs fan. “Had nobody thought of an ice carpet? I can’t understand why.”
All joking aside, Triumph guitarist Rik Emmett said he was especially pleased when he realized the rock band’s maple leaf-styled star would be near Roy Thomson Hall, a stretch of King Street West where generations of his family worked in the now-demolished Canadian Pacific Express building.
“Not only my dad worked there, but my grandfather worked there, my great-uncles and my great-grandfather,” said Emmett, whose band played hits “Lay It on the Line” and “Magic Power.”
Presenters for the evening included 2002 inductee David Foster, who tipped his music producer hat to friend Treliving, owner of Boston Pizza and one of the stars of ”Dragons’ Den,” and Kurt Browning, who joined the Walk of Fame in 2001.
Browning said getting inducted was like “an introduction to a family” where he’s wound up playing host and presenter to gatherings numerous times since.
“I seem to be the mascot of the Walk of Fame somehow,” he said.
“I think it’s important that we feel connected and that we celebrate when someone from our Canadian family does well.”
Posthumous honours went to children’s entertainer Ernie Coombs, known by many families as TV host Mr. Dressup. His grandchilden accepted on his behalf.
A tribute to James Naismith, who invented the game of basketball, included his grandson Jim and Isiah Thomas, an NBA All-Star and former Toronto Raptors executive.
Thomas, who was instrumental in establishing the Raptors in Canada, said he wanted to pay tribute to the creator of the sport he’s invested much of his life in.
After the Raptors won the NBA championship this year, some wondered if basketball could eclipse hockey as the ultimate Canadian sport, but Thomas said he always saw room for both.
“Hockey will always be the godfather of Canadian sport,” he said. “However, we wanted to give the kids choices.”
A telecast of the 2019 Canada’s Walk of Fame Awards airs Dec. 15 on CTV and will be available to stream through Crave on Dec. 20.
David Friend, The Canadian Press