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Jewish Writing

Yiddish and Hebrew writing began to appear in Canada before WWI when large numbers of Jews arrived after fleeing pogroms in tsarist Russia. In 1851 there were barely 450 JEWS in Canada; in 1901 there were almost 17 000, and suddenly there was a Yiddish reading public.

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Women's Organizations

In the early 19th century affluent women grouped together at the local level for charitable and religious purposes. They set up shelters and orphanages to help needy women and children, and worked for their churches through ladies' auxiliaries.

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Turtle Island

For some Indigenous peoples, Turtle Island refers to the continent of North America. The name comes from various Indigenous oral histories that tell stories of a turtle that holds the world on its back. For some Indigenous peoples, the turtle is therefore considered an icon of life, and the story of Turtle Island consequently speaks to various spiritual and cultural beliefs.

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Sault-au-Cochon Tragedy

The Sault-au-Cochon tragedy (9 September 1949) was the first attack against civil aviation in North America. A Canadian Pacific Airlines DC-3 exploded mid-flight 65 kilometres east of Québec, killing 23 people.

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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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Women's Memorial March

The Women’s Memorial March (WMM) is held every year on 14 February, Valentine’s Day, in cities across Canada and the United States. The WMM started in 1992 in Vancouver, BC, following the murder of Indigenous woman Cheryl Ann Joe. The first Women’s Memorial March began as a small memorial for Joe, but grew to become an annual march to honour all missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. The Vancouver march draws thousands of people, while women’s memorial marches have spread to more than 20 cities across Canada and the United States.

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Thanksgiving in Canada

The first official, annual Thanksgiving in Canada was celebrated on 6 November 1879, though Indigenous peoples in Canada have a history of celebrating the fall harvest that predates the arrival of European settlers. Sir Martin Frobisher and his crew are credited as the first Europeans to celebrate a Thanksgiving ceremony in North America, in 1578. They were followed by the inhabitants of New France under Samuel de Champlain in 1606. The celebration featuring the uniquely North American turkey, squash and pumpkin was introduced to Nova Scotia in the 1750s and became common across Canada by the 1870s. In 1957, Thanksgiving was proclaimed an annual event to occur on the second Monday of October. It is an official statutory holiday in all provinces and territories except Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia.

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Music at Expo 67

Expo 67 was the largest event among the celebrations marking Canada's centenary. It ran from 28 April to 27 October 1967, and its theme was “Man and His World.” The exposition was located on 400 hectares (ha) of man-made islands in the St Lawrence River adjacent to Montréal.

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Indian Shaker Church

The Indian Shaker Church is an Indigenous religion that began in 1882 near the town of Shelton, Washington, in the United States. Today, there are several active Indian Shaker Church congregations in the Pacific Northwest.

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Swissair Flight 111

Swissair Flight 111 crashed in the sea off Peggy’s Cove, NS on 2 September 1998, while on a scheduled flight from New York to Geneva, Switzerland. All 229 passengers and crew were killed. It was the second-deadliest air accident to occur in Canada. An investigation by Canada’s Transportation Safety Board determined that a fire, sparked by arcing in the MD-11 aircraft’s electrical system, resulted in a catastrophic failure of the plane’s main operating systems.

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Urban Migration of Indigenous Peoples in Canada

The Aboriginal population is the most rural in Canada. One-half of a million Aboriginal people are committed to the land by heritage, by rights in a rural land base, and by a broad range of bureaucratic mandates provided by the federal government. These conditions are supported by the Constitution Act, 1982, a legal guarantee that is unique in the world for an Aboriginal population with a predominantly hunting heritage.

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Women and Health

If life expectancy is any indication of health, Canadian women are, on average, much healthier than they were 70 years ago. The life expectancy of female babies born in 1921 was 61 while female babies born today are expected to live to age 82.

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Temperance Movement in Canada

The temperance movement was an international social and political campaign of the 19th and early 20th centuries. It was based on the belief that drinking was responsible for many of society’s ills. It called for moderation or total abstinence from alcohol. This led to the legal prohibition of alcohol in many parts of Canada. The Canada Temperance Act (Scott Act) of 1878 gave local governments the “local option” to ban the sale of alcohol. In 1915 and 1916, all provinces but Quebec prohibited the sale of alcohol as a patriotic measure during the First World War. Most provincial laws were repealed in the 1920s in favour of allowing governments to control alcohol sales. Temperance societies were later criticized for distorting economic activity, and for encouraging drinking and organized crime.

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Gavazzi Riots

The Gavazzi Riots were two major disturbances that occurred in Canada East in 1853. Alessandro Gavazzi, a former Catholic priest and Italian patriot, had embarked on a speaking tour of North America. He scheduled stops in Québec City and Montreal for June. Both of these events were violently disturbed by angry mobs. In each case, soldiers intervened to restore order. In Montreal, on 9 June 1853, soldiers opened fire on the mob that tried to stop Gavazzi’s speech. Ten were killed and many more were wounded. The riots were a major confrontation between the city’s Catholic and Protestant communities. The events highlighted a period of increased religious tension in Canada.

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Totem Pole

The totem pole (also known as a monumental pole) is a tall structure carved out of cedar wood, created by Northwest Coast Indigenous peoples to serve variously as a signboard, genealogical record and memorial. Some well-known carvers include Mungo Martin, Charles Edenshaw, Henry Hunt, Richard Hunt and Stanley Hunt.

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Knights of Columbus in Canada

Founded in the United States in 1882 and arriving in Canada in 1897, the Knights of Columbus are a lay Catholic fraternal service organization committed to charity, unity, fraternity and patriotism. They are devoted to mutual aid through an internal insurance system, to the promotion of the Catholic Church, and to social welfare through community voluntarism and charitable public works.

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Chinook Wawa

Chinook Jargon or Chinook Wawa — wawa meaning "talk" — is a pidgin language that was prevalent in British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest in the 1800s and early 1900s. Its small vocabulary and simplified grammar and sound system made it ideal for communication between diverse communities, especially those engaged in trade. The language is based on Lower Chinook, Nuu-chah-nulth (Nootka), French, ​English, with some contributions from Salishan, and other ​Indigenous languages. It is estimated that approximately 100,000 people could speak Chinook Wawa in 1875, and it was used widely in court testimony, newspaper advertising, missionary activity among Indigenous peoples, and everyday conversation from central British Columbia to northern California.

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First Nations

First Nations is a term used to describe Indigenous peoples in Canada who are not Métis or  Inuit. First Nations people are original inhabitants of the land that is now Canada, and were the first to encounter sustained European contact, settlement and trade. According to the 2016 census by Statistics Canada, 977,230 people in Canada identified as being of First Nations heritage, a growth of 39.3 per cent since 2006. There are 634 First Nations in Canada, speaking more than 50 distinct languages.

For more detailed information on specific First Nations, see Indigenous Peoples in Canada.