How do you define resilience?
Perhaps it’s an Olympic athlete battling back from injuries. Or a stay-at-home mom who decided to lose the baby weight once and for all and ended up doing triathlons. Or the woman who grew up in a troubled home in a tough neighbourhood and is breaking stereotypes of Black womanhood. Or the man who turned his back on his bad habits to help raise his grandson.
Those are some of the people running Season 7 of The Amazing Race Canada, which debuts Tuesday (CTV at 9 p.m.). In this go-round, producers were looking for contestants who had stories of resilience and second chances to share.
Among the 10 teams, five of them from Ontario, is one that’s getting a second chance to run the Race thanks to Canadians who voted for them. Season 1 participants Jet Black and Dave Schram say they’ve packed their protein powder and hair gel, and are ready for whatever the Race throws at them this time around.
Here’s what the other Ontario teams had to say about competing on one of Canada’s most popular TV series.
Gilles and Sean
Who they are: Gilles and Sean Miron are a grandfather and grandson from Sunderland, Ont. Gilles, 65, describes Sean, 20, as his “second chance.” After years of drinking and some drug use, Gilles says he wasn’t in a good place when his daughter gave birth to Sean at 16, but it inspired the canoe instructor and retired building maintenance worker to turn his life around. Sean has a college diploma in health and fitness and holds a second-degree black belt in karate.
Why they’re racing: They want to draw attention to the importance of the natural environment; to encourage sensitivity for the mentally ill and to prove that age is just a number.
What they bring to the Race: Gilles figures he can ace any wilderness challenge and is also good at building things, while Sean knows his way around animals, having been a farmer, and is very competitive. They see their close relationship as their biggest asset. “In the end we can’t lose this race; every day we spend together is a win,” says Gilles.
What could trip them up: Sean doesn’t like heights, is directionally challenged and has a phobia of worms, “so if I have to eat worms you’re going to see a grown man melt down on TV.” Gilles is no dancer, but Sean’s been playing a lot of dance video games to compensate.
What’s in their backpacks? A compass, a whistle for calling taxis and kinetic tape in case of injuries.
Who they are: Friends Nicki Lee and Aisha Bentham, both 31, met as teens playing basketball in the Scarborough neighbourhood of Malvern. Despite their differences — Lee had a tough upbringing while Bentham’s family was like “the Black Brady Bunch” — something drew them together. Lee is a flight attendant and personal trainer. Bentham has a business helping people become vegan and is getting a master’s degree in theatre and performance.
Why they’re racing: They want to challenge themselves and to break stereotypes of Black women. “I grew up outdoors. I was in Girl Guides and Pathfinders. I can canoe. I can do these things,” Bentham says.
What they bring to the Race: Lee is athletic and good with puzzles; Bentham is good at endurance and memorization. They see their biggest strength as the way they support and push each other. And they plan to race “from a place of love. I don’t want to be spiteful to anybody,” Bentham says.
What could trip them up: Lee fears “eating weird stuff.” Bentham struggles with heights and claustrophobia: “The thought of even a blanket over my head is too much.”
What’s in their backpacks? Hair products for Lee; extra clothes, extra contact lenses and Tiger Balm for Bentham.
Sarah and Sam
Who they are: Friends Sarah Wells, 29, and Sam Effah, 30, are Team Canada track athletes who’ve both had to fight back from injuries — potentially career-ending labral tears in both hips in his case — and plan to compete at the 2020 Olympics. When they’re not training, Torontonian Wells inspires students through her Believe Initiative while Calgary native Effah mentors youth through the Classroom Champions program.
Why they’re racing: They want to show Canadians that you can face massive obstacles and come out the other side. Plus they’re keen to push outside their comfort zones and to represent amateur athletes who “don’t get the love” that Olympians do.
What they bring to the Race: As Olympic-level athletes, they’re used to being disciplined, staying in their own lanes and performing under pressure. “I think that’s gonna be our biggest strength, is we know what it’s like to have a weight on our shoulders and carry that for Canada,” says Wells.
What could trip them up: Wells is scared of being cold: “It can be plus 30 out and I’m chilly.” Effah fears blood and bugs.
What’s in their backpacks? Heat packs and a body heat-reflecting emergency blanket for Wells. A journal because “I want to make sure I take down everything that I do” and extra running shoes for Effah.
Trish and Amy
Who they are: Trish Omeri, 40, and Amy de Domenico, 50, who live in Etobicoke, became friends when they started doing triathlons together. Omeri started back to the gym after having her third child and lost almost 100 pounds; de Domenico, who was born with severe hearing loss, has raised seven children, two of them with disabilities.
Why they’re racing: They want other stay-at-home moms to know it’s OK to take time out to do things for themselves, plus they’d love to be the first team of friends who are also moms to win the Race. “Your dreams don’t die just because you’re a mom and you’re a caregiver,” says Omeri.
What they bring to the Race: They’ve got the physical fitness part covered and di Domenico says they’re good at staying calm, too. Di Domenico is very detail-oriented, while Omeri brings drive and energy. And they’ve been memorizing phrases in other languages, including Indigenous languages.
What could trip them up: De Domenico is terrified of having to climb a building. Omeri fears getting overwhelmed and letting de Domenico down, although de Domenico says, “I will never have that attitude. Ever.”
What’s in their backpacks? Photos of their children, exercise bands, buffs to keep their heads and necks warm. Long-sleeved T-shirts for de Domenico; lip gloss for Omeri.
Also on the starting line Tuesday will be twin sisters Meaghan and Marie Wright from Halifax; Montreal martial arts superstar Dave Leduc and his wife Irina Terehova; sisters Lauren and Joanne Lavoie, who are the show’s first Saskatchewan team; married couple Anthony Johnson and James Makokis from Edmonton; and dating couple Aarthy Ketheeswaran and Thinesh Kumarakulasingam from Vancouver.
See ctv.ca for more information.