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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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Inuit

This collection explores Inuit culture, history and society through the use of exhibits, images, videos and articles. These sources also illustrate the importance of Arctic lands, animals and the environment to Inuit identity and life in the North.

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Oliver Milton Martin

Oliver Milton Martin, Kanyen'kehà:ka (Mohawk) army officer, air force pilot, teacher, principal, magistrate (born 9 April 1893, in Ohsweken, Six Nations of the Grand River First Nation, ON; died 18 December 1957 in Toronto, ON). Martin served in the Canadian Army during both world wars. During the First World War, he fought on the Western Front as a commissioned officer and later trained as an observer and pilot. During the Second World War, Martin commanded home defence brigades in Canada. He reached the rank of brigadier, the highest rank attained by an Indigenoussoldier to that point. After the war, he worked in education and was the first Indigenous person appointed as a provincial magistrate in Ontario.

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Bertha Clark-Jones

Bertha Clark-Jones (née Houle), OC, Cree (Nehiyawak)-Métis advocate for the rights of Indigenous women and children (born 6 November 1922 in Clear Hills, AB; died 21 October 2014 in Bonnyville, AB). A veteran of the Second World War, Clark-Jones joined the Aboriginal Veterans Society and advocated for the fair treatment of Indigenous ex-service people. She was co-founder and first president of the Native Women’s Association of Canada. Clark-Jones devoted her life to seeking equality and greater power for women in Canada.

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Thelma Chalifoux

Thelma Julia Chalifoux, Métis, senator, entrepreneur, activist (born 8 February 1929 in Calgary, AB; died 22 September 2017 in St. Albert, AB). Chalifoux was the first Métis woman appointed to the Senate of Canada. As a senator, she was concerned with a range of issues, including Métis housing, drug company relations with the federal government, and environmental legislation. An ardent advocate for women’s and Indigenous rights, Chalifoux was involved in organizations such as the Aboriginal Women’s Business Development Corporation and the Métis Women’s Council. She was also known for her work in the protection of Métis culture, having served in the Alberta Métis Senate and Michif Cultural and Métis Resource Institute (now Michif Cultural Connections).

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Richard Wagamese

Richard Wagamese, Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) novelist, journalist, mentor (born 4 October 1955 in northwestern ON; died 10 March 2017 in Kamloops, BC). A well-known Indigenous writer in Canada, Wagamese won several awards including the Canada Council for the Arts Molson Prize (2013) and the Writers’ Trust of Canada’s Matt Cohen Award (2015). His works speak about the historical and contemporary socio-economic issues affecting Indigenous communities in Canada. They also bring attention to issues regarding Indigenous identity, culture and truth and reconciliation. A beloved writer, Wagamese’s works have inspired many Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples and writers alike.

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Maria Campbell

Maria Campbell, O.C., Cree-Métis writer, playwright, filmmaker, scholar, teacher and elder (born 26 April 1940 in Park Valley, SK). Campbell’s memoir Halfbreed (1973) is regarded as a foundational piece of Indigenous literature in Canada for its attention to the discrimination, oppression and poverty that some Métis women (and Indigenous people, in general) experience in Canada. Campbell has authored several other books and plays, and has directed and written scripts for a number of films. As an artist, Campbell has worked with Indigenous youth in community theatre and advocated for the hiring and recognition of Indigenous people in the arts. She has mentored many Indigenous artists during her career.

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Jordin Tootoo

Jordin John Kudluk (Thunder) Tootoo, hockey player (born 2 February, 1983 in Churchill, MB). Jordin Tootoo is the first Inuk hockey player to play in the National Hockey League (NHL). Jordin got the attention of the NHL as a tough, talented right-winger in his junior hockey days in Manitoba. In 2003, he received national attention when he played for Team Canada at the World Junior Hockey Championship. After playing 13 seasons in the NHL, he retired in 2018. He is known for speaking to youth and maintaining his Inuit culture.

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Sheila Watt-Cloutier

Sheila Watt-Cloutier (née Watt), OC, human rights and Indigenous rights activist, cultural preservation advocate, politician, writer and educator (born 2 December 1953 in Old Fort Chimo, QC). Watt-Cloutier is a respected Inuit leader who has received international recognition and acclaim in the areas of rights activism, environmental and climate change awareness and social justice.

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Fred Sasakamoose

Frederick (Fred) George Sasakamoose, CM, hockey player, Elder of Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation (born 25 December 1933 at Whitefish Lake, now Big River First Nation, SK; died 24 November 2020 in Prince Albert, SK). Fred Sasakamoose was one of the first Indigenous hockey players from Canada in the National Hockey League (NHL). A former student of St. Michael’s Indian Residential School in Duck Lake, Saskatchewan, he played 11 games for the Chicago Black Hawks in the 1953–54 NHL season. After his retirement from competitive hockey in 1961, he dedicated himself to encouraging youth through sports involvement. A Member of the Order of Canada, he was inducted into the Saskatchewan First Nations Sports Hall of Fame, the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame, the Saskatchewan Hockey Hall of Fame, the Prince Albert Hall of Fame and the Canadian Native Hockey Hall of Fame.

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Wendat (Huron)

The Wendat (also known as Huron-Wendat) are an Iroquoian-speaking nation that have occupied the St. Lawrence Valley and estuary to the Great Lakes region. “Huron” was a nickname given to the Wendat by the French, meaning “boar’s head” from the hairstyle of Wendat men, or “lout” and “ruffian” in old French. Their confederacy name was Wendat (Ouendat) meaning “island dwellers.” During the fur trade, the Wendat were allies of the French and enemies of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois). Following a series of 17th century armed conflicts, the Wendat were dispersed by the Haudenosaunee in 1650. However, the Wendat nation (Nation Huronne-Wendat) still remains, and is located in Wendake, Quebec.

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Wilton Littlechild

Jacob Wilton (Willie) Littlechild, CM, athlete, lawyer, Cree chief, politician, advocate for Indigenous rights (born 1 April 1944 in Hobbema, [now Maskwacîs] AB). Littlechild formed and coached Alberta’s first all-Indigenous junior hockey team and created the National Indian Athletic Association. He is a member of seven sports halls of fame. In 1976, Littlechild earned a law degree from the University of Alberta. He went on to become the first member of Parliament with Treaty Indian Status in Canada in 1988. Littlechild served as a commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2009. Throughout his career, Littlechild has promoted Indigenous rights both nationally and internationally.

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Nipissing (Nbisiing) First Nation

Nipissing (also Nbisiing) First Nation people are of Algonquin and Ojibwe descent. (See also Anishinaabe and Algonquian.) The First Nation is made up of several communities along the north shore of Lake Nipissing. Their motto is an affirmation for protection of A-Kii (land), Bemaadzijik (people) and E-Niigaanwang (future). Nipissing First Nation was the first Anishinaabe nation in Ontario to ratify their own constitution in 2014. The population of Nipissing First Nation, as of November 2020, is 2,909. Two-thirds of the population reside off-reserve, while 916 live on-reserve.

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Charles Edenshaw (Tahayren)

​Charles (Charlie) Edenshaw (Haida name, Tahayren), Haida chief and master artist (born 1839 in Skidegate, Haida Gwaii, BC; died 10 September 1920 in Masset, Haida Gwaii, BC). Edenshaw was among the first professional Haida artists. He was noted for his flawless execution of dynamic flowing forms in an otherwise strict and disciplined art tradition. Many of Edenshaw’s descendants also became artists, including his daughter Florence Davidson, his grandson Claude Davidson, his great-grandsons Reggie and Robert Davidson and his great-great nephew Bill Reid.

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Indspire

Indspire is a national charitable organization, formerly known as the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation. Indspire is dedicated to investing in the education of Indigenous people in Canada. In so doing, the organization hopes to give Indigenous students the skills and opportunities to create positive futures for themselves and their communities. Indspire aims to inspire and promote excellence. Every year, Indspire presents awards to Indigenous peoples who have made significant contributions to their communities and to Indigenous peoples as a whole. Well-known recipients of the Indspire Awards include Murray Sinclair, Susan Aglukark, Maria Campbell, Daphne Odjig, Tomson Highway, Reggie Leach and hundreds more.

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Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada

Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada is a national not-for-profit organization that has been a leading advocate for Inuit women since 1984. It represents all Inuit women living in Inuit Nunangat (the Arctic homeland of the Inuit), and in southern urban centres across Canada. Pauktuutit supports and promotes Inuit women, their culture, values and language. It advocates for social, economic and political improvements that benefit women, their families and communities. It works with community leaders, Inuit organizations, as well as territorial and federal levels of government, to improve the lives of Inuit women and children. Pauktuutit helps build safe, healthy communities.

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Leonard Braithwaite (Primary Source)

"I started to go down to Bay and Wellington. That’s where the recruiting station was. The first time the guy, the recruiting officer, just said, "No, sorry, we don’t take you people.""

See below for Mr. Braithwaite's entire testimony.


Please be advised that Memory Project primary sources may deal with personal testimony that reflect the speaker’s recollections and interpretations of events. Individual testimony does not necessarily reflect the views of the Memory Project and Historica Canada.