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Gord Downie and The Tragically Hip perform their to their hometown crowd in Kingston, Ont., on Aug. 20, 2016.

Gord Downie's spirited fight with terminal brain cancer struck a chord with Canadians in 2016.

His widespread impact on Canadian culture, and advocacy for aboriginals, has inspired news editors and directors across the country to name him the Canadian Press Newsmaker of the Year.

Downie pulled in 39 per cent of the votes in the annual survey, marking the first time in the Newsmaker's 70-year history that an entertainer has been selected for the title.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau came in second, garnering 27 per cent of the votes.

Fort McMurray fire Chief Darby Allen and four-time Olympic medallist Penny Oleksiak tied with 12 per cent each.

It was in May that Downie shocked the country by revealing he had incurable cancer but still wanted to go on tour with his band, the Tragically Hip.

In August, on the last night of the tour, Downie took a moment during the televised concert to campaign for aboriginal people in Canada's North.

Less than a month later, he lifted the veil on "Secret Path," a solo multimedia project that recounts the life of 12-year-old Chanie Wenjack, who died in 1966 after running away from a residential school.

Earlier this month, an emotional Downie was recognized during the Assembly of First Nations special assembly in Gatineau, Que., and was anointed the "Man Who Walks Among the Stars."

Go behind the scenes of Secret Path, one of Gord Downie's final collaborations. It tells the story of Chanie "Charlie" Wenjack - a young boy who died fleeing a 1960s residential school - through music, film and a graphic novel.

Globe and Mail Update