Lesra Martin, born in 1963 in Queens, New York. Despite passing school, he remained illiterate until he was sixteen. Regardless, Lesra was always keen to learn especially after a near-death fall from a five-storey building when he was 12.
His life changed when a group of Canadian entrepreneurs offered to help with his education in Canada after realizing his potential. He graduated high school in Ontario and received a BA (Honours) in Anthropology from the University of Toronto. He went on to obtain a law degree from Dalhousie University.
Martin became involved with the release of Rubin “Hurricane” Carter after serving 22 years in prison. With the help of the Canadian group, Carter was released in1983.
Martin’s story is portrayed in the film The Hurricane starring Denzel Washington as Carter. The National Film Board also produced The Journey of Lesra Martin.
He and his wife Cheryl have practiced law in Kamloops for over ten years.
Ian Weir is a stage and radio playwright, screenwriter, and novelist. Born in North Carolina, he was raised in Kamloops, and worked as a newspaper reporter before completing a BA in English at the University of B.C. and an MA in Medieval Literature at King’s College, London. Weir wrote plays for Western Canada Theatre Company in Kamloops that connect with the history of the city including Flyin’ Phil and The Mclean Boys (see entry on Phil Gaglardi and Donald Mclean) and the Award-wining The Idler in 1987.
Over the past fifteen years Ian has written extensively for television with more than 100 episodes for nearly two dozen series in Canada and the U.S., including Beachcombers, ReBoot, Flashpoint and Arctic Air. Awards include two Geminis, four Leos and a Writers’ Guild of Canada Screenwriting Award.
Ian lives in Langley, B.C. with his wife Jude and their daughter Amy (from Weir’s website and Small Cities interview).
Michael Garrett Shanks was born December 15, 1970 in Vancouver and grew up in Kamloops. After graduating from the University of British Columbia with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre in 1994, he appeared in several stage productions, serving a two-year apprenticeship with the prestigious Stratford Festival in Ontario. He made guest appearances on TV series like Highlander and University Hospital, appeared in the TV movie A Family Divided and had a small role in The Call of the Wild, before winning the role of Daniel Jackson on the Canadian-American military science fiction television series Stargate SG-1.
Shanks lives in Vancouver with his wife Lexa Doig and two children. He enjoys playing hockey, and once considered playing professionally. He played the part of a school hockey coach in the 2006 TV movie Under the Mistletoe (Wikipedia).
Kanao Inouye (born 1916, died 1947). At his family’s urging, Inouye left Kamloops to attend Vancouver Technical College and in 1938 traveled to Japan to further his education. However, it was not the kind of education his family would not have hoped for. Inouye was conscripted into the Imperial Japanese Army in 1942 and, due to his flawless English, became an interpreter. As a sergeant, he was posted at a Hong Kong prison that housed Canadian soldiers. It was there that Inouye gained notoriety as the Kamloops Kid; a reputation for brutality against his fellow countrymen. Prisoners feared his unusual cruelty. He randomly beat them, claiming it was in retaliation for abuse in Kamloops.
After the war, the Kamloops Kid was charged with war crimes and sentenced to death. His dying words were the unrepentant military cheer “banzai.” (Canada’s History magazine)
Dylan Armstrong (born January 15, 1981, Kamloops) is a Canadian shot putter. Armstrong is the reigning Commonwealth Games and Pan American Games champion and has also won a world championship silver medal in the shotput event. In addition, he holds the Canadian national record, the Commonwealth games record, and the Pan American Games record for shotput. His first true world success came at the 2011 World Championships in Athletics when he won the silver at the outdoor event for shotput. As one of Canada’s leading medal favorites and only medal favorite in athletics, Armstrong had set a season’s best heading into the 2012 Summer Olympics. Armstrong currently lives in Kamloops and trains there at the nearby National Throws Centre (Wikipedia).