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Indigenous Peoples

Indigenous (Aboriginal) Peoples are the original inhabitants of the land that is now Canada. Inuit and First Nations history extends well before the arrival of Europeans in Canada, while Métis emerged as a distinct culture after intermarriage between European settlers and First Nations people. Indigenous people were essential to the development of early Canada, but suffered massive population declines due to the arrival of European disease. In addition, though they were often military allies, they faced persecution at the hands of colonial governments in the form of displacement, starvation, land seizure and cultural genocide through residential schools and destructive legislation. Indigenous people live throughout Canada and continue to strive to reinvigorate traditional culture and ways of life.

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Indigenous Treaties in Canada

Indigenous treaties in Canada are constitutionally recognized agreements between the Crown and Indigenous peoples. Most of these agreements describe exchanges where Indigenous nations agree to share some of their interests in their ancestral lands in return for various payments and promises. On a deeper level, treaties are sometimes understood, particularly by Indigenous people, as sacred covenants between nations that establish a relationship between those for whom Canada is an ancient homeland and those whose family roots lie in other countries. Treaties therefore form the constitutional and moral basis of alliance between Indigenous peoples and Canada.

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Métis

This collection features content related to Métis communities in Canada.Through the use of videos, articles and more, it explores issues concerning Métis history, identity and culture.

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Reconciliation in Canada

In Canada, the process of reconciliation is tied to the federal government's relationship with Indigenous peoples. The term has come to describe attempts made by individuals and institutions to raise awareness about colonization and its ongoing effects on Indigenous peoples. Reconciliation also refers to efforts made to address the harms caused by various policies and programs of colonization, such as residential schools. For some, the word represents an opportunity to reflect on the past, to heal and to make right. For others, however, current gestures of reconciliation are merely performative and lack meaningful action to address the harms done by colonization.

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Guglielmo Marconi

Guglielmo Giovanni Maria Marconi, electrical engineer, inventor and businessman (born 25 April 1874 in Bologna, Italy; died 20 July 1937 in Rome, Italy). Marconi’s early experiments in wireless telegraphy demonstrated the potential of long-range radio communication. He is generally considered the inventor of the radio. Marconi’s first reputed reception of a transatlantic radio signal occurred at Signal Hill in St. John’s, Newfoundland, in 1901. The following year, he built a wireless transmission station in Glace Bay, Nova Scotia. Half of the 1909 Nobel Prize in Physics went to Marconi for his work in wireless telegraphy.

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

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Grey Nuns

The Grey Nuns refer to six distinct Roman Catholic religious communities of women. Their origins can all be traced to the Sisters of Charity of theHôpital Général de Montréal founded by Marie-Marguerite d'Youville in the mid-18th century.

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Gender Identity

The term “gender identity” refers to an individual’s sense of their own gender, or the gender they feel is most in keeping with how they see themselves.

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Marie-Anne Lagimodière

Marie-Anne Lagimodière (née Gaboury), settler (born 2 August 1780 in Maskinongé, QC; died 14 December 1875 in St. Boniface, MB). Marie-Anne Lagimodière accompanied her fur-trader husband, Jean-Baptiste Lagimodière, to what is now Western Canada. She was one of the first women of European descent in the area and they became some of the first settlers in Red River. Marie-Anne Lagimodière was grandmother of Louis Riel, the Métis leader of the Red River Resistance.

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Norwegian Music in Canada

It is believed that the Norse (Vikings) visited North America around the year 1000. However, people from modern Norway, the western kingdom of the Scandinavian peninsula, immigrated to Canada from the USA during the 1890s and moved into the Prairies and particularly to British Columbia, whose coastline so closely resembled that of their homeland. In 1986 there were 243,675 people of Norwegian origin living in Canada (191,000 in British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan). Those born in Canada numbered 224,000, and of the 20,000 immigrants 2,000 arrived in the period 1977-86.

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Dakelh (Carrier)

Dakelh, also known as Carrier, are Dene people traditionally occupying areas in north-central British Columbia. The Carrier name derives from the former custom of a widow carrying the ashes of her deceased husband in a bag during a period of mourning, at which time a ceremonial distribution of goods released her of the obligation. The name is also an English translation of Aghele, the Sekani name for Dakelh people. They call themselves Dakelh (people who “travel upon water”), and add the suffixes -xwoten, “people of” or -t’en, “people” to village names or locations to refer to specific groups (e.g., Tl’azt’en, Wet’suwet’en). In the 2016 census, 7,810 people claimed to have Dakelh ancestry.

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Maestro Fresh Wes

Wesley Williams (a.k.a. Maestro Fresh Wes, Maestro), rapper, actor, author, motivational speaker (born 31 March 1968 in Toronto, ON). A pioneering hip-hop recording artist, Maestro Fresh Wes is often regarded as the “godfather of Canadian hip hop.” His debut album, Symphony in Effect (1989), was the first album by a Black Canadian artist to be certified platinum in Canada. It yielded the hit single “Let Your Backbone Slide,” one of the most successful and influential Canadian songs of all time. In 2019, it became the first rap song to be inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame. Maestro has been nominated for 13 Juno Awards and won two, including the inaugural award for Rap Recording of the Year in 1991. He was named No. 1 on CBC Music’s 2013 list of the greatest Canadian rappers. He has become a successful actor, author and motivational speaker while remaining a prominent figure in Canadian hip hop.

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Christian Religious Communities in Canada

Christian religious communities are groups of people who have chosen to devote their lives to the work of their respective churches. The first Christian religious communities in what is now Canada were established in New France. In the 2011 National Household Survey (NHS), 22,102,745 Canadians identified as Christian. The majority of that number, 12,810,705 people, identify as Catholic.

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Pennefather Treaties

In the summer of 1859, Superintendent General of the Indian Department Richard T. Pennefather signed three separate but essentially identical treaties with Batchewana First Nation (Treaty 91 [A]), Garden River First Nation (Treaty 91 [B]) and Thessalon First Nation (Treaty 91 [C]). The three treaties were part of a series of land surrenders that occurred after the 1850 Robinson Treaties. The Pennefather treaties opened additional acres for settlement and resource exploitation. (See also Treaties with Indigenous Peoples in Canada.)

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Oliver Jones

Oliver Theophilus Jones, OC, CQ, pianist, organist, composer, arranger (born 11 September 1934 in Montreal, QC). A musical prodigy, Oliver Jones is one of the best-known and most talented Canadian jazz pianists of all time. He studied piano in his youth with Daisy Peterson Sweeney, sister of Oscar Peterson, and spent much of his career working in pop and variety settings. Jones drew critical notice for his technical dexterity and rollicking swing, often eliciting comparisons to Peterson. He received Félix Awards in 1989, 1994, 2007 and 2008, and Juno Awards in 1986 and 2009. He is an Officer of the Order of Canada and a Knight of the Ordre national du Québec.

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Lui Passaglia

Lui Passaglia, football player (born 7 June 1954 in Vancouver, BC). Lui Passaglia is regarded as one of the best kickers in Canadian Football League (CFL) history. He played 25 straight seasons with the BC Lions (1976–2000) and won three Grey Cups (1985, 1994, 2000). He holds both the CFL and professional football record for most points scored (3,991). He is also the CFL’s all-time leader in seasons, games played (408), field goals made (875) and converts made (1,045). He has been inducted into the BC Sports Hall of Fame and Museum, the Canadian Football Hall of Fame and Museum, the BC Football Hall of Fame and Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame. His No. 5 has been retired by the Lions, with whom he works as a community relations ambassador.

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Piapot

Piapot (also spelled Payipwat, meaning “One Who Knows the Secrets of the Sioux,” originally named Kisikawasan, meaning “Flash in the Sky”), Cree chief (born in 1816 on the southern prairies; died in 1908 on the Piapot Reserve, SK). During Piapot’s 92 years, he witnessed great changes on the Canadian prairies, including the disappearance of the bison and the settlement of non-Indigenous peoples on Indigenous lands. As chief, Piapot resisted assimilation and strove to uphold Cree customs and traditions.

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Sir Wilfrid Laurier

Sir Wilfrid Laurier, PC, prime minister of Canada 1896–1911, politician, lawyer, journalist (born 20 November 1841 in St-Lin, Canada East; died 17 February 1919 in Ottawa, ON). Sir Wilfrid Laurier was the dominant political figure of his era. He was leader of the Liberal Party from 1887 to 1919 and Prime Minister of Canada from 1896 to 1911. A skilful and pragmatic politician with a charismatic personality, he unceasingly sought compromise. Above all, he was a fervent promoter of national unity at a time of radical change and worsening cultural conflict. Laurier also promoted the development and expansion of the country. He encouraged immigration to Western Canada; supported the construction of transcontinental railways; and oversaw the addition of Alberta and Saskatchewan to Confederation.