Communities & Sociology | The Canadian Encyclopedia

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  • Article

    Winnifred Eaton (Onoto Watanna)

    Winnifred Eaton Babcock Reeve (a.k.a. Onoto Watanna), author, screenwriter (born 21 August 1875 in Montreal, QC; died 8 April 1954 in Butte, Montana). Winnifred Eaton achieved literary fame under the pseudonym Onoto Watanna. She was the first person of Asian descent to publish a novel in the United States — Miss Numè of Japan (1899) — and to reach a mainstream audience. Her novel A Japanese Nightingale (1901) was adapted into a Broadway play and a motion picture. She also wrote screenplays for Hollywood and two novels, Cattle (1924) and His Royal Nibs (1925), about ranching life in Alberta.

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  • Article

    Women and the Fur Trade

    An Algonquin man declared to Jesuit missionary Paul Le Jeune in 1639: “To live among us without a wife is to live without help, without home and to be always wandering.” While the importance of having a home and wife may have been lost on the itinerant and celibate Jesuit priest, for many First Nations this quote evokes the social, economic and political advantages of marriages, especially in the context of the fur trade. Indigenous women’s labour produced and mended clothing, preserved meats, harvested maple sugar and root vegetables like turnips, trapped small game, netted fish and cultivated wild rice — all crucial survival and subsistence activities in the boreal forests, prairie parklands and northern plains of fur trade society. Through intraclan marriages (see Clan), First Nations women forged extended kin lineages, established social obligations and reciprocal ties, and negotiated for the access and use of common resources across a vast and interconnected Indigenous world. Marriages between different Indigenous villages, clans and nations shaped regional politics, fostered lateral marital alliances and created a geographically diverse and widespread kinship network throughout the Great Lakes- St. Lawrence River Basin, the Hudson Bay watershed, and the Pacific Slope (see Pacific Ocean and Canada.)

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  • Article

    Women and the Indian Act

    The Indian Act has affected Indigenous cultures, systems of governance, societies and ways of life since its enactment in 1876. Gender discrimination in the Act further disadvantaged First Nations women, in particular. Until 1985, women with Indian status who married someone without status lost their status rights. Men, on the other hand, did not lose Indian status in the same way. Even after Bill C-31 reinstated the status rights of many women in 1985, the Act still discriminated against women by privileging male lines of descent. Amendments in 2011 and 2017 sought to fix these issues. In 2019, the federal government brought into force the remaining part of Bill S-3, which is meant to address lingering sex-based inequities in the Indian Act. (See also Indigenous Women’s Issues.)

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  • Editorial

    Women on Canadian Banknotes

    The following article is an editorial written by The Canadian Encyclopedia staff. Editorials are not usually updated. Though Queen Elizabeth II has appeared on the $20 bill since she was eight years old, identifiable Canadian women have only appeared on a Canadian banknote once. In 2004, the statue of the Famous Five from Parliament Hill and Olympic Plaza in Calgary, and the medal for the Thérèse Casgrain Volunteer Award were featured on the back of the $50 note. They were the first Canadian women to appear on our currency. However, in 2011, they were replaced by an icebreaker named for a man (see Roald Amundsen). The new bill was part of a series of notes meant to highlight technical innovation and achievement, but the change sparked controversy. Other than the image of a nameless female scientist on the $100 note issued in 2011, and two female Canadian Forces officers and a young girl on the $10 bill issued in 2001 , Canadian women were absent from Canadian bills. On 8 March 2016, International Women’s Day, the Bank of Canada launched a public consultation to choose an iconic Canadian woman who would be featured on a banknote, released in the next series of bills in 2018. More than 26,000 submissions poured in. Of those, 461 names met the qualifying criteria, and the list was pared down to a long list of 12 and finally a short list of five. The final selection will be announced on 8 December 2016. But how did we get here?

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  • Article

    Won Alexander Cumyow

    Won Alexander Cumyow (溫金有), activist and interpreter (born around 21 March 1861 in Port Douglas, BC; died 6 October 1955 in Vancouver). Won Cumyow was the first Chinese Canadian born in British North America, which became Canada. He knew several languages, which assisted his work as a Chinese community leader and court interpreter.

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  • Article

    Xavier Dolan

    Xavier Dolan (born Xavier Dolan-Tadros), CM, actor, director, writer, producer, editor, costume designer (born 20 March 1989 in Montreal, QC). A precocious practitioner of auteurist art cinema, Xavier Dolan garnered international acclaim at age 20 for his debut feature, J’ai tué ma mère (I Killed My Mother, 2009). His next four award-winning films — Les amours imaginaires (Heartbeats, 2010), Laurence Anyways (2012), Tom à la ferme (Tom at the Farm, 2013) and Mommy (2014) — were completed by the time he was 25. His sixth movie, Juste la fin du monde (It’s Only the End of the World, 2016), won the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival and six Canadian Screen Awards. Dolan has also directed notable music videos for Adele and won a 2022 Juno Award for “Easy On Me.” He was made a Member of the Order of Canada in 2019.

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  • Article

    Yellowknives Dene

    Yellowknives Dene or T'atsaot'ine are a band of the Athapaskan-speaking Dene associated with the region encompassed by the Coppermine and Yellowknife rivers, the northeast shore of Great Slave Lake, and northeast into the Barren Grounds.

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  • Article

    Yolande Grisé

    Yolande Grisé, CM, FRSC, academic, writer, advocate for French language, arts and culture (born 1944 in Montreal, QC). Throughout her career, Grisé has promoted French language and culture in Canada. She supervised the first doctoral thesis on French literature at the University of Ottawa in 1983, developed the first cultural policy for Francophones living in Ontario in the early 1990s and was the first director at the Office of Francophone and Francophile Affairs at Simon Fraser University, which oversaw the first bilingual degree program in British Columbia. Grisé was also president of the Ontario Arts Council (1991–94) and the Royal Society of Canada (2011–13).

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  • Article

    Yvon Dumont

    Yvon Dumont, CM, OM, Métis leader, lieutenant-governor of Manitoba (born 21 January 1951 at St. Laurent, Manitoba, a mostly Métis community northwest of Winnipeg). Dumont became involved in Indigenous politics as a teenager and, throughout his career, held senior positions in the Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF), the Native Council of Canada (now the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples) and the Métis National Council (MNC). As MNC president in 1986, Dumont participated in the defeat of the Charlottetown Accord. On 5 March 1993, he was sworn in as the lieutenant-governor of Manitoba, the first Métis person in Canadian history to hold a vice-regal office. Yvon Dumont was a successful appellant in the 2013 Supreme Court of Canada land claims case Manitoba Métis Federation vs. Canada. This case helped bring about the signing of a memorandum of understanding in May 2016 between the Canadian government and the MMF to “advance exploratory talks on reconciliation.” Dumont remains a proponent of recognizing the Métis people as a distinct Indigenous population.

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  • Article

    Yvon Durelle

    Yvon Durelle (the Fighting Fisherman), boxer (born 14 October 1929 in Baie-Sainte-Anne, NB; died 6 January 2007 in Moncton, NB). Yvon Durelle was an Acadian boxer. A heavy-handed power puncher, Durelle was Canadian middleweight champion (1953) and light heavyweight champion (1953–57); as well as British Empire light heavyweight champion (1957). In 1958, he earned international fame for a legendary 11-round slugfest against defending world champion Archie Moore at the Forum in Montreal. Durelle had a career record of 88 wins (49 by knockout), 24 losses and two draws. He was inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, the New Brunswick Sports Hall of Fame, the Maritime Sports Hall of Fame and the Canadian Boxing Hall of Fame. He died at 77 following a years-long battle with Parkinson’s disease.

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  • Article

    Zal Yanovsky

    Zalman “Zal” Yanovsky, guitarist, songwriter, restaurateur (born 19 December 1944 in Toronto, ON; died 13 December 2002 in Kingston, ON). A product of the Yorkville and Greenwich Village folk music scenes of the early 1960s, Zal Yanovsky was best known as the lead guitarist in the folk-rock band The Lovin’ Spoonful. Formed in 1965, the group had seven top 10 hits in two years, including “Do You Believe in Magic,” “Daydream” and the No. 1 hit “Summer in the City.” Yanovsky was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1996 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with The Lovin’ Spoonful in 2000.

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