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Canadian Identity and Language

Language policy in Canada, as it relates to Canadian identity, traditionally encompasses three points of view. One favours an officially bilingual Canada. It reaffirms the country as the product of two “founding peoples.” A version of this approach, introduced by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, endorses official bilingualism but rejects the claim that two “peoples” or “nations” deserve any special recognition. Rather, it argues that we should instead emphasize Canada’s multiculturalism. The second position argues that, since no linguistic group deserves special status, the country should therefore have no official languages. The third position argues that Canada is not only multicultural, but also multinational. It argues that French and English should have official status because this recognizes two of the country’s founding nations. This approach also suggests that efforts should be made to help preserve Indigenous languages.

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Chanukah in Canada

Chanukah (also Hanukkah, Chanukkah, Chanuka, and the Festival of Lights) is the Hebrew word for dedication. In Canada, Chanukah has been celebrated since 1760 when the first Jews were allowed to immigrate. Chanukah in Canada is a celebration for friends and families to gather, socialize, eat, and exchange gifts. It is arguably the first non-Christian settler holiday that was widely and publicly celebrated in Canada.

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Queer Culture

​While lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Canadians have always been engaged in artistic discourse, it was only in the 1960s and 1970s that alternative sexualities were openly portrayed in ways that directly challenged the mainstream establishment.

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Dene Games

Dene games are tests of physical and mental skill that were originally used by the Dene (northern Athabascan peoples) to prepare for the hunting and fishing seasons, and to provide entertainment. Today, Dene games (e.g., Finger Pull and Hand Games) are still played in many schools and community centres in the North as a means of preserving tradition and culture. As competitive sports, Dene games are also featured in various national and international athletic competitions, including the Arctic Winter Games.

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Sylliboy Case

Mi’kmaq Grand Chief Gabriel Sylliboy is believed to be the first to use the 1752 Peace and Friendship Treaty to fight for Canada’s recognition of treaty rights. In his court case, R. v. Sylliboy (1928), he argued that the 1752 treaty protected his rights to hunt and fish, but he lost the case and was subsequently convicted. In 1985, when the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in R. v. Simon — another case concerning Mi’kmaq hunting rights — it found that the 1752 treaty did in fact give Mi’kmaq people the right to hunt on traditional territories. This judgment vindicated both Sylliboy and James Simon of the 1985 case. In 2017, almost 90 years after his conviction, Sylliboy received a posthumous pardon and apology from the Government of Nova Scotia.

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One Big Union

The One Big Union (OBU) was a radical labour union formed in Western Canada in 1919. It aimed to empower workers through mass organization along industrial lines. The OBU met fierce opposition from other parts of the labour movement, the federal government, employers and the press. Nevertheless, it helped transform the role of unions in Canada.

Click here for definitions of key terms used in this article.

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Caesar Cocktail

The Caesar, also known as the Bloody Caesar, is considered Canada’s national cocktail. The key ingredients are vodka, clam juice, tomato juice, spices and Worcestershire sauce. It is typically served in a highball glass rimmed with celery salt and garnished with a celery stalk, olives and lime. Food and beverage worker Walter Chell invented the Caesar in Calgary, Alberta, in 1969. Since then, the drink’s popularity and origin have made it a national cultural icon. Canadians drink more than 400 million Caesars annually. However, it has not achieved significant reach beyond Canada.  

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Haisla (Kitamaat)

The Haisla are a First Nation in Canada. The Haisla Nation is made up of two historic bands, the Kitamaat of upper Douglas Channel and Devastation Channel and the Kitlope of upper Princess Royal Channel and Gardner Canal in British Columbia. The Kitamaat call themselves Haisla ("dwellers downriver"); and the Kitlope, Henaaksiala ("dying off slowly"), a reference to their traditional longevity. The official designations Kitamaat ("people of the snow") and Kitlope ("people of the rocks") were adopted from the names used by the Tsimshian to refer to their Haisla neighbours.

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Antifeminism in Québec

​Antifeminism is a counter-movement that is opposed to feminism and that seeks to thwart efforts to emancipate women. Antifeminism has evolved in response to advances made by the feminist movement.

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Catholicism in Canada

The Greek word katholikos means "general" or "universal." It refers most commonly to the Christianity that is in communion with the pope and the Church of Rome, that is, the beliefs and practices of a Catholic Church. The modern ecumenical movement often refers to all Christians as sharing in the church's Catholicism, which is derived from the universal headship and reign of Christ. In the 2011 National Household Survey (NHS), 12,810,705 Canadians identified as Catholic.

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British Columbia and Confederation

The colony of British Columbia was founded in 1858 in response to the Fraser River Gold Rush. (See also The Fraser River Gold Rush and the Founding of British Columbia.) The colony established representative government in 1864 and merged with the colony of Vancouver Island in 1866. In May 1868, Amor De Cosmos formed the Confederation League to bring responsible government to BC and to join Confederation. In September 1868, the Confederation League passed 37 resolutions outlining the terms for a union with the Dominion of Canada. The terms were passed by both the BC assembly and the federal Parliament in 1871. The colony joined Canada as the country’s sixth province on 20 July 1871. The threat of American annexation, embodied by the Alaska purchase of 1867, and the promise of a railway linking BC to the rest of Canada, were decisive factors.

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Official Language Act (New Brunswick)

New Brunswick, the province with the highest level of linguistic duality in Canada, adopted the Official Languages of New Brunswick Act (OLNBA) in 1969, a few months before the federal government enacted its own Official Languages Act. New Brunswick’s recognition of two linguistic communities (1981), mechanisms for enforcement of the law and redress for infractions (2002), and regulations on bilingual commercial signage (2009) have been the boldest measures in support of bilingualism of any province in the country. Francophones in New Brunswick represented 32.4 per cent of the population in 2016.

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Remembrance Day in Canada

Remembrance Day is a yearly memorial day that is observed in many Commonwealth countries, including Canada, to remember those who died in military service, and honour those who served in wartime. It is observed across Canada each year on 11 November — the anniversary of the Armistice agreement of 1918 that ended the First World War. On Remembrance Day, public ceremonies and church services often include the playing of “Last Post,” a reading of the fourth stanza of the poem “For the Fallen,” and two minutes of silence at 11 a.m. Wreaths are laid at local war memorials and assemblies are held in schools. Millions of Canadians wear red poppy pins in the weeks leading up to and on 11 November in remembrance. In 2020 and 2021, Remembrance Day services and events were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many events were either held online, cancelled or limited to a small number of participants due to fear of contagion.

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Ethnic Identity

An ethnic group is often a distinct category of the population in a larger society with a (generally) different culture. Distinct ethnic and cultural groups were recorded by Herodotus 2500 years ago.

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Industrial Relations

The phrase "industrial relations" became widely used during WWII, for two main reasons: the major growth of the numerous war-time industries and, even more, the adoption of PC 1003 by the federal Cabinet on 17 February 1944.

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Women and Education

Although women have always been well represented in schools as students and teachers, it is possible, by examining women's participation in schooling, to understand how that participation has both reflected and produced the unequal position of women in society.

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Misinformation in Canada

The advance of computers into all aspects of our lives and the rising role of the Internet have led many people to call this the Information Age. But with news travelling fast, and often with few checks and balances to ensure accuracy, it can also be seen as the Misinformation Age. Learning how to separate facts from misinformation or so-called fake news has become a critical modern skill as people learn to evaluate information being shared with them, as well as to scrutinize information they may share themselves.

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Midewiwin

Midewiwin, or Grand Medicine Society, is a spiritual society found historically among the Algonquian of the Upper Great Lakes (Anishinaabe), northern prairies and eastern subarctic. Once widespread, the Midewiwin became less prevalent after the arrival of Europeans in the 18th and 19th centuries. Today, the largest Midewiwin societies are found in parts of Ontario, Manitoba, Wisconsin and Minnesota.