Browse "Leaders & Activists"

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Carrie Best

Carrie Mae Best (née Prevoe), OC, ONS, LLD, human rights activist, author, journalist, publisher and broadcaster (born 4 March 1903 in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia; died 24 July 2001 in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia). Sparked by incidents of racial discrimination, Carrie Best became a civil rights activist. Co-founder of The Clarion, one of the first newspapers in Nova Scotia owned and published by Black Canadians, she used the platform to advocate for Black rights. As editor, she publicly supported Viola Desmond in her case against the Roseland Theatre. Best used her voice in radio and print to bring positive change to society in Nova Scotia and Canada.

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Charles Bronfman

Charles Rosner Bronfman, PC, CC, businessman and philanthropist (born 27 June 1931 in Montréal, QC). Bronfman was co-chairman of the Bronfman family business, Seagram, the world’s largest producer and distributor of distilled spirits. He also owned the Montreal Expos baseball club from 1968 to 1990. According to Forbes, Bronfman had an estimated net worth of over $2 billion (as of 2017) and was ranked the 16th wealthiest Canadian and 896th wealthiest person in the world. Bronfman is also a dedicated philanthropist. He established the CRB Foundation to promote study of Canadian and Jewish affairs, and co-founded and endowed the Historica Foundation of Canada, which later became Historica Canada (publisher of The Canadian Encyclopedia). He has disbursed approximately $325 million through Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies Inc. (ACBP) and private donations.

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Charlotte Whitton

After resigning from the Welfare Council in 1941, Whitton championed women's equality in politics and the workplace. However, her views on women, as on the WELFARE STATE, were contradictory. She opposed more liberal divorce laws and criticized married women who worked.

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Claire Bonenfant

​Claire Bonenfant, CQ, bookseller, film director, feminist (born 27 June 1925 in Saint-Jean, Île d’Orléans, QC; died 29 September 1996).

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Dorothea Palmer

Dorothea Ferguson (née Palmer), birth control advocate, social worker (born 1908 in England; died 5 November 1992 in Ottawa, ON). Dorothea Palmer was arrested in 1936 for advertising birth control to women in a working-class neighbourhood in Ottawa. She was cleared of charges after a lengthy trial proved her work had been for the public good. Her acquittal was a major victory for the birth control movement in Canada.

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Elsie Knott

Elsie Marie Knott (née Taylor), Ojibwe chief, community leader, entrepreneur (born 20 September 1922 on Mud Lake Reserve [now Curve Lake First Nation], ON; died there on 3 December 1995). Knott was the first elected female First Nations chief in Canada, after a 1951 amendment to the Indian Act permitted Indigenous women to vote and participate in band governments. She was also chief of her First Nation for 14 years, from 1954 to 1962 and from 1970 to 1976. Knott was dedicated to preserving the Ojibwe language and was known for her community activism and support of education.

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Francis Pegahmagabow

Francis “Peggy” Pegahmagabow, Anishnaabe (Ojibwa) chief, Aboriginal rights advocate, war hero (born on 9 March 1891 on the Parry Island reserve, ON; died 5 August 1952 at Parry Island, ON). One of the most highly decorated Indigenous people in Canada during the First World War, Pegahmagabow became a vocal advocate for Indigenous rights and self-determination.

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Greenpeace

Greenpeace originated in Vancouver (1971) as a small group opposed to nuclear testing in the Pacific, and has blossomed into one of the largest and best-known environmental organizations in the world

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Helen Mamayaok Maksagak

Helen Mamayaok Maksagak, CM, politician, public servant, community leader (born 15 April 1931 in Bernard Harbour, NT [NU]; died 23 January 2009 in Cambridge Bay, NU). Maksagak was the first woman and Inuk to serve as the commissioner of the Northwest Territories. A vocal and engaged advocate for Inuit affairs, she contributed to efforts to establish Nunavut as Canada’s third territory in the 1990s. In March of 1999, she was chosen as the first commissioner of the newly created Nunavut territory; her term lasted until March 2000. Maksagak returned to a formal political role in November 2005, when she was appointed deputy commissioner of Nunavut. In addition to her political career, Maksagak performed advocacy work, focusing on Inuit and, more broadly, Indigenous initiatives, such as improving access to social services.

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Hilda Ramacière

Hilda Ramacière (née Hildegard Weiland), community worker and volunteer (born 7 November 1927 in Zizenhausen, Germany; died 6 January 2010 in Montreal, Quebec). Mrs. Ramacière left her mark through her social commitment in the Plateau Mont-Royal neighbourhood. A strong-minded and determined woman, she exemplified the pride of Montreal's immigrant community.

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Hippies

Hippies, a term (possibly a variation of "hipster") coined in the mid-1960s to describe the adherents of a subculture (or counterculture) associated with the political and social protest movements of that decade.

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Ignace Bourget

Lartigue recommended Bourget to Rome and on 25 July 1837 Bourget was installed as his coadjutor with right of succession, which took effect at Lartigue's death on 19 April 1840.

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Jamaican Maroons in Nova Scotia

The ancestors of the Maroons of Jamaica were enslaved Africans who had been brought there by the Spanish in the 16th and 17th centuries, and later by the British (who captured Jamaica from Spain in 1655), to work its lucrative sugar plantations. The word maroon was widely used to describe a runaway, and maroonage to denote the act and action of escaping enslavement, whether temporarily or permanently. After a series of wars with the colonial government in Jamaica, one group of Maroons was deported to Nova Scotia in 1796. While Maroon communities existed in Nova Scotia for only four years before they were sent to Sierra Leone, their legacy in Canada endures.

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Jean Lumb

Jean Bessie Lumb (née Toy Jin Wong), CM, community leader, restaurateur (born 30 July 1919 in Nanaimo, BC; died 17 July 2002 in Toronto, ON). Jean Lumb was the first Chinese Canadian woman and first restaurateur inducted into the Order of Canada. She is also best known for her role in successfully lobbying the federal government to change its discriminatory immigration policies that separated Chinese families. Lumb also led the Save Chinatown Committee to prevent further demolition of Toronto’s Chinatown in the 1960s.

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Jeannette Corbiere Lavell

Jeannette Vivian Corbiere Lavell (called Keewednanung, “North Star” in the Anishinaabe language), CM, activist, educator and community worker (born 21 June 1942 in Wikwemikong, ON). Corbiere Lavell, an Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) woman, was one of several Indigenous women who brought increased public awareness to the gendered discrimination that First Nations women faced because of status law, namely section 12(1)(b) of the Indian Act. Her efforts were central to revising patriarchal (male-dominated) aspects of Canadian legal code.

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Jim Egan

James Leo (Jim) Egan, gay activist, writer, politician, environmental activist (born 14 September 1921 in Toronto, ON; died 9 March 2000 in Courtenay, BC). Egan was the first person to publish long articles written from a gay point of view in Canada. He was also one of the first openly gay politicians to serve in Canada. Egan is best remembered for a court challenge he and his partner, Jack Nesbit, launched against the spousal allowance benefit under the Old Age Security Act in 1988. In the subsequent Egan v. Canada decision (1995), the Supreme Court read in that sexual orientation is a protected ground of discrimination inthe Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms — a monumental finding in support of LGBTQ2 rights in Canada.  

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John Strachan

Strachan lost his father when he was 14. He entered the University of Aberdeen at only 16 and supported his widowed mother through teaching.