Duncan Campbell Scott, poet, writer, civil servant (born 2 August 1862 in Ottawa, ON; died 19 December 1947 in Ottawa, ON). Scott’s complicated legacy encompasses both his work as an acclaimed poet and his role as a controversial public servant. Considered one of the “poets of the Confederation” — a group of English-language poets whose work laid the foundations for a tradition of Canadian poetry — his intense works made use of precise imagery and transitioned smoothly between traditional and modern styles. However, his literary work has arguably been overshadowed by his role as the deputy superintendent of the Department of Indian Affairs. He enforced and expanded residential schools, failed to respond to a tuberculosis epidemic and oversaw a treaty process that many claim robbed Indigenous peoples of land and rights. His oft-quoted goal to “get rid of the Indian problem” became, for many, characteristic of the federal government’s treatment of Indigenous peoples.1
David Adams Richards, CM, ONB, novelist, short-story writer, memoirist, Member of the Senate (born 17 October 1950 in Newcastle, NB). An acclaimed author of novels, short stories, memoirs, essays, poetry and plays, David Adams Richards is one of only three Canadian writers to be awarded a Governor General’s Literary Award for both fiction and non-fiction. Perhaps best known for his fictionalized accounts of his native region of Miramichi, New Brunswick, Richards’ work increasingly tackles complex explorations of conscience, morality, integrity and consequences. He has been compared to Leo Tolstoy, Albert Camus and William Blake. He has won the Giller Prize and two Gemini Awards, and is a Member of the Order of Canada and the Order of New Brunswick. He was appointed to the Senate in 2017 by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Anne Hébert, CC, poet, playwright, novelist (born 1 August 1916 in Sainte-Catherine-de-Fossambault, QC; died 22 January 2000 in Montréal). A Companion of the Order of Canada, a member of the Royal Society of Canada, and a three-time winner of the Governor General’s Award, Anne Hébert's career was founded on a disciplined life devoted to writing. Her poetry and prose are models for other writers and have been analysed in hundreds of studies, particularly in Québec, but also in France and English Canada.
Freda Ahenakew, OC, Cree scholar, author (born 11 February 1932 on the Ahtahkakoop First Nation Reserve in Saskatchewan; died 8 April 2011 at Muskeg Lake First Nation in Saskatchewan). Ahenakew is recognized as one of Canada’s leaders in the acknowledgment and revitalization of the Cree language in Canada.
Daniel Nicholas Paul, CM, Mi’kmaq elder, author, social justice advocate (born 5 December 1938 on Indian Brook Reserve, NS). Paul is the author of We Were Not the Savages, one of Canada’s first history books from an Indigenous perspective, and has long campaigned for the removal of Halifax’s statue to its controversial founder, Edward Cornwallis.
Lucy Maud Montgomery, OBE, writer (born 30 November 1874 in Clifton (now New London), PEI; died 24 April 1942 in Toronto, ON). Lucy Maud Montgomery is arguably Canada’s most widely read author. Her first novel, Anne of Green Gables (1908), became an instant bestseller and has remained in print for more than a century, making the character of Anne Shirley a mythic icon of Canadian culture. Montgomery’s body of work — more than 500 short stories, 21 novels, two poetry collections and numerous journal and essay anthologies — has sold an estimated 50 million copies worldwide. Anne of Green Gables alone has been translated into at least 36 languages as well as braille, and been adapted dozens of times in various mediums. Montgomery was named an Officer of the Order of the British Empire and the Literary and Artistic Institute of France, and declared a Person of National Historic Significance in Canada.
Colin McAdam, novelist. (Born 1971 in Hong Kong) Colin McAdam is best known for his novels, Some Great Thing (2004), Fall (2009) and A Beautiful Truth (2013). His work has also appeared in The Walrus, Harpers and Granta. He has won the Paragraphe Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction and the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, and teaches creative writing at Humber College in Toronto.
André Alexis, novelist, playwright, short-story writer (born 15 January 1957 in Port of Spain, Trinidad). Winner of the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize for his novel Fifteen Dogs (2015), André Alexis is one of Canada’s most respected novelists. He lives and works in Toronto, where he reviews books for the Globe and Mail and acts as a contributing editor for This Magazine. He has also hosted CBC Radio One’s Radio Nomad and CBC Radio 2’s Skylarking.
Ken Finkleman, screenwriter, director, actor, producer (born 1946 in Winnipeg, Manitoba). Ken Finkleman is a maverick auteur renowned for the caustic humour, bitter irony and deadpan satire embodied by his television alter ego George Findlay, a linking character he has portrayed in seven television series. The winner of six Gemini Awards and an Emmy Award, Finkleman is best known for The Newsroom, the iconoclastic comedy series he created, wrote, produced and starred in. Popular and critically acclaimed during three runs (1996–97, 2003–04, 2004–05) and a TV movie (Escape from the Newsroom, 2002) on CBC Television and PBS, the show is regarded as one of the best media satires ever produced..
Emma Donoghue, novelist, literary historian, teacher, playwright, radio and film scriptwriter (born 24 October 1969 in Dublin, Ireland). Winner of the 2010 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, Emma Donoghue has introduced a fresh, if often jarring, voice in modern fiction produced by women. One of Canada’s most important contemporary literary figures, she is perhaps best known for the novel Room (2010), which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, and for the screenplay of its 2015 film adaptation, which earned Donoghue a Canadian Screen Award and an Independent Spirit Award, as well as BAFTA and Academy Award nominations.
John McCrae, soldier, physician, poet (born 30 November 1872 in Guelph, ON; died 28 January 1918 in Wimereux, France). A noted pathologist and army physician, Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae was also a poet; he wrote “In Flanders Fields” — one of the most famous poems of the First World War.
Laure Waridel, CM, CQ, social activist, author, environmentalist, lecturer and columnist (born 10 January 1973 in Chesalles-sur-Oron, Switzerland). Regarded as one of the 25 most influential political personalities in Québec, Laure Waridel holds an honorary doctorate from the Université du Québec à Rimouski, the Insigne du mérite from the Université de Montréal, and the rank of Knight of the Order of La Pléiade. She is a co-founder of Équiterre, a Québec organization that encourages individuals and governments to make choices that are fair, ecological and consistent with the principles of solidarity. The author of a number of books and essays on environmental issues, Waridel has contributed to many magazines, such as Voir and Reader’s Digest, in addition to hosting the radio show Acheter, c’est voter on Radio-Canada. She is currently strategic advisor for CIRODD, an interdisciplinary centre for research on operationalization of sustainable development. This centre is based at Polytechnique Montréal, and its membership includes over 80 researchers.