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Amid an ongoing pandemic, overflowing hospitals, war in Ukraine, the loss of reproductive rights for U.S. women, soaring inflation, and the inexplicable rise of the “butter board,” there must have been some good news this year, right? Does Elon Musk blowing up Twitter count? Nope. Turns out we were pretty attached to that hellish site after all.

But fret not – after much brain-racking, I’ve come up with a list of 10 not-horrible things from 2022.

Wordle might sound like a cheat, since it became available to the public in late 2021. But it didn’t catch on for some time – and it was in the dark days of January when I first gave it a shot. I was immediately and forever hooked. Made by a Welsh software engineer named Josh Wardle for his partner, it went viral and was bought by The New York Times. It has produced many offshoots, including Heardle, Worldle and Quordle. It also helped save a woman’s life: In February, when the daughter of an 80-year-old Illinois resident noticed that her mom hadn’t texted her Wordle score that day, as was their custom, she became concerned and had a neighbour look in on her. Turns out the woman had been locked in her basement by an armed intruder, who was still upstairs. The woman was saved, the man arrested. Wordle for the win.

The Canadian federal government’s legislation criminalizing ”conversion therapy” went into effect in January, making it illegal to subject people to this horrific sham, which claims to be able to change a person’s sexual or gender identity. The discredited practice has been used – and is still being used elsewhere – to “convert” LGBTQ2S+ people to a heterosexual orientation or to change their gender expression to match the sex they were assigned at birth. The legislation also makes it illegal to promote the service, or financially benefit from it, and it passed unanimously in the House of Commons. Bravo.

The actor Betty White dying at the age of 99 last New Year’s Eve was a bummer – especially for People magazine, which had already published a celebratory “Betty White Turns 100!” cover story. But here’s a nice thing that came out of it: Ms. White loved animals. So fans devised a social-media challenge for Jan. 17, which would have been her 100th birthday. Donations to animal shelters and rescue organizations in Ms. White’s honour were encouraged. According to Meta, the challenge raised US$12.7-million on Facebook and Instagram alone. Canadian animal shelters also reported a surge in donations. It was a sweet way to honour the death of a lifelong animal lover.

Speaking of animals, let’s take a moment to applaud the rulings against Alex Jones, who was ordered this year to pay nearly US$1.5-billion to the families of the victims of the Sandy Hook shooting, for lying about the 2012 massacre that killed 26 people, including 20 children. Mr. Jones declared it had been staged as a gun-control scheme. He and his company have since declared bankruptcy. His moral bankruptcy has been evident for some time.

On the polar opposite end of the mensch meter, 2022 gave us Yvon Chouinard. The founder of outdoor-apparel company Patagonia transferred his company – valued at about US$3-billion – to a trust and non-profit organization, ensuring its profits are used to fight climate change. “Earth is now our only shareholder,” he declared.

The climate catastrophe was once again responsible for plenty of terrible news this year. But among a few little bright spots was the loss-and-damage-deal struck at COP27, the United Nations Climate Change Conference. It will see wealthier countries compensate vulnerable nations suffering from the severe effects of climate change.

And at the COP15 UN Biodiversity Conference in Montreal this month, the federal government announced $800-million over seven years for large, Indigenous-led conservation projects in Ontario, B.C., Nunavut and the Northwest Territories. Once completed, Ottawa said, these projects could protect additional land of up to one million square kilometres. Another island of good news in a rising sea of bad.

At a time when so many of us do not have the answers to oh so many questions, along came Mattea Roach. Ms. Roach, a brainy young LSAT tutor originally from Halifax, gave Canadians something to cheer for last spring. The then-23-year-old Torontonian’s 23-game winning streak put her in the Jeopardy! top five players of all time and made her the most successful Canadian to play the game formerly hosted by another great Canadian, the late Alex Trebek. Her excellent showing saw her return in the fall for the Tournament of Champions. In both her final regular match, and in the tournament’s semi-final, she lost by one dollar.

Sticking with pop culture, Sarah Polley is another Canadian who gave us good things in this rotten year. Author and auteur, Ms. Polley published a terrific book, Run Towards the Danger, and released a haunting film, Women Talking (adapted from the Miriam Toews novel, which was inspired by a true story). Run Towards the Danger won the Toronto Book Award and Women Talking is getting lots of Oscar buzz.

Finally, there is the nuclear-fusion breakthrough announced this month by a U.S. lab. The development involved a Dec. 5 test that produced more energy than it took to create the reaction. This energy source has its detractors, and it will be “probably decades,” the lab’s director said, before this kind of energy is widely available. But this milestone offers some hope for a large-scale, long-term supply of clean energy – which means we can at least say we’re ending 2022 with a bang.