SiriusXM Canada Now on Canadian talent and courage

Canada Now

Exco Levi (l) with Canada Now host Jeff Sammut.

It’s only been about a month of hosting Canada Now from 10am-12pm ET on Sirius XM Canada Talks Channel 167 and the guests we’ve had on the show have been unbelievable.  Very quickly, a shout-out to our dynamite producer Cassandra Bielas:  you rock.

I challenged myself to limit the number of most valuable qualities our most impressive guests possess. So here’s only 2.  Talent. Courage. I’ve been blown away by the displays of both of these qualities that I’ve seen in some of the people I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with.

Some examples….and I’m really only mentioning a few here. Winnipeg’s Chantal Kreviazuk:  An immense talent that everyone in Canada is familiar with and she has the Junos to show for it.  But she’s made a point to highlight a Canadian author, Sheila Watt-Cloutier, and her book “The Right to Be Cold for the CBC’s Canada Reads 2017, telling me on Canada Now that every Canadian needs to read this book.  The text illustrates the urgency of climate change and each individual’s connection to Earth. I looked into Chantal’s eyes when she talked about this book and she’s dedicated to doing whatever she can to help educate Canada through this book.  In our conversation, just like in her music, she was passionate about what she truly believes in. I had a front row seat for that.  Easily one of the best moments I’ve had on Canada Now so far.

Also if you want to talk talent, look no further than Cassandra Maze.  From BC, born with an incredible singing voice that, alone, would skyrocket anyone to stardom.  But she’s way more than that.  Watch her on stage.  She masters the loop pedal to create a big, amazing sound.  Listen to her single “Wait”.  She dares to dream and then achieve said dream.  I enjoyed her presence in studio while I could because I know she’ll be an unreachable superstar soon.

Exco Levi, a 4-time Juno award winner (at the time of writing this, more to come). Jamaican born and living in Brampton Ontario, he is the past, present and future of reggae music in Canada.  He is an artist that takes his influence and audience seriously.  His message is about positivity.  Listen to him.  You’ll walk away feeling uplifted.  Your chest will stick out.  Your chin will be up.  You’ll feel better about yourself and the world around you.

Staying with music, again from Winnipeg, but focusing more so on his message in whatever form, Robb Nash.  A gifted musician, he tore up a record deal to tell his story to kids all over Canada.  At 17, he was involved in a car crash, hitting a truck head on.  He was once pronounced dead. His parents were told they had lost their son.  By some miracle, he came back to us.  But, it was a long road back with thoughts of suicide.  Everything you need to know about this person is with one phone call he made.  He reached out to the truck driver who was involved in the accident (and Robb told me the accident was not the driver’s fault) to tell him that he was alive and well because the truck driver would not get behind the wheel again.  He thought Robb was dead.  Robb wanted to do something good for someone else and that feeling stuck with him.  Through speaking at schools across Canada, he is personally responsible for 600 troubled kids handing in their suicide notes.  To honour them, he tattoos their names on his arm.  I was very choked up by the end of our interview.  I told him he was the most remarkable person I had ever spoken to. And boy is he.

And Corey Hirsch from Medicine Hat.  He wrote a courageous piece on The Players Tribune telling his story as an NHL goaltender with thoughts of suicide.  He talks about his OCD, how he was diagnosed and how he treats it.  He wrote the piece and joined me to talk about it because he wants to help erase the stigma of mental illness as a weakness, especially in sports.  He wants to encourage communication and be an example of not using a permanent solution for a temporary problem (his term, not mine).

Oh, and how about Lauren Whiteway, an 18 year old from Moncton.  Once upon a time, she could not speak. She developed a severe anxiety disorder called selective mutism.  She copes with it every day.  6 weeks after changing schools for a fresh start, she stood up in front of the school, told everyone who she was and what she suffers from.  The other day, she was ON THE RADIO with me! Why?  She wants to help people (and also that know people) with the disorder so she can help.  On top of that, she’ll soon be studying psychology at Mount Allison University so she can make a career out of helping people.

Talent.  Courage.  In just a month, I’m a better person for having spoken to and been around my Canada Now guests.  I’m hanging on to the tapes of these conversations because I want my 2 boys, who are only 3 years and 8 months old, so they can hear them and be inspired too.

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