THE BLOG

Why 2014 Wasn't Exactly a Year Worth Tweeting About

12/27/2014 01:21 EST | Updated 02/25/2015 05:59 EST

Sports, violence, and Toronto's Ford brothers. According to Twitter, that's what intrigued Canadians this year.

The 2014 #YearOnTwitter report reveals the 10 news stories most tweeted by Canadians. Six concern sporting events, two cover acts of violence (the Parliament Hill attack and the shooting of three police officers in New Brunswick.) Then there's the Toronto mayoral election, and finally Canadians celebrating Canada Day.

Hockey wins are fun, but it would have been more satisfying to see some environmental and social victories on the list. Which begs the question, how did humanity progress in 2014 on our journey to a more just and equitable world? Overall, it was a mixed bag with the setbacks outweighing the celebrations.

We began the year on a low, with a column that revealed the number of missing and murdered aboriginal women in this country is hundreds higher than Canadians realized. But not even the dredging of Tina Fontaine's abused body from the Red River in Winnipeg spurred Canada's government to take action on violence against aboriginal women.

History may just look back on 2014 as the year Canada reached a tipping point on aboriginal issues. The Idle No More movement hasn't faded. Winnipeg became the largest city in Canada to elect an aboriginal mayor -- Métis Brian Bowman. The children of Attawapiskat in northern Ontario finally got a new school after waiting 14 years. And although it ultimately fell through, our hats are off to Sean Atleo, former National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, for his hard work trying to reach an education agreement with the federal government. Still, too many aboriginal communities are still waiting for schools, and clean water, and justice for their missing and murdered mothers and daughters.

A high point for the year was the Nobel Prize for Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi. The award is a victory for international children's rights -- a recognition that a world free of child labour, where every girl and boy goes to school, is essential for global peace.

On balance, however, this was not a good year for world peace. Russian aggression in Crimea and the Ukraine, and the West's response, pushed the world closer to a new Cold War. Revelations about the CIA's use of torture were enough to shake anyone's faith in the goodness of humanity. Meanwhile, the Middle East spiralled downward with greater violence in Gaza, Syria and Iraq.

On the environmental front, the greenhouse emissions deal between the United States and China last month inspired hope the world's big polluters might finally tackle climate change. At home, however, we are still not on track to meet our emissions targets. And the strongest praise environmentalists could muster for the climate change deal reached in Lima, Peru, last week was to wince and say it is "better than nothing."

To be fair, there were small victories, inspiring moments, and tiny steps forward to celebrate in 2014. Emma Watson's #HeforShe speech at the United Nations was a powerful rallying cry for men to join the fight for women's equality. The eager and informed participation of youth in the Scottish independence referendum has inspired many to look again at lowering voting ages. And Russia's anti-gay policies at the Sochi Olympics ultimately led to sexual orientation being added to the anti-discrimination clauses in the Olympic Charter.

Nevertheless, we are hoping 2015 will be a year of more celebration than setback. The opportunities are there.

Next year, the Millennium Development Goals reach their deadline. It's a chance for the world to dream big and create a new vision for moving the needle on global poverty.

There's been lots of hype already for the United Nations climate change conference in Paris, even though it's a year away. Will the world finally reach a binding agreement to take on the greatest environmental threat facing our species?

In mid-2015, the national Truth and Reconciliation Commission will finally release its report after years of heart-breaking eyewitness testimony about Canada's residential school system. We hope it spurs a new dialogue between Canada's aboriginal and non-aboriginal peoples.

If we seize these opportunities, we can make 2015 a year truly worth tweeting about.

Brothers Craig and Marc Kielburger founded a platform for social change that includes the international charity, Free The Children, the social enterprise, Me to We, and the youth empowerment movement, We Day.

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