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Article

Angela Sidney (Stóow Ch’óonehte’ Máa)

Angela Sidney (née Johns), (Stóow Ch’óonehte’ Máa), CM, Elder, storyteller, author (born 4 January 1902 near Carcross, YT; died 17 July 1991 in Whitehorse, YT). Of Tagish and Tlingit descent, Sidney was one of the last fluent speakers of the Tagish language. A storyteller, Sidney recorded and preserved the stories, traditions, languages, place names and genealogies of her people. She was the first Indigenous woman from Yukon to be appointed to the Order of Canada.

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Marie-Anne Day Walker-Pelletier

Marie-Anne Day Walker-Pelletier, CM, chief (born 15 April 1954 in Regina, SK). Day Walker-Pelletier is the longest-serving elected chief in Canadian history. She was chief of Okanese First Nation, located near Fort Qu’Appelle, Saskatchewan, from 1981 to 2020. During her long career, Day Walker-Pelletier accomplished many goals, including establishing the structure, instruments and policies of governance for Okanese First Nation. She also took part in numerous projects related to wellness, social reform and education, focusing primarily on providing support to vulnerable women and children. Day Walker-Pelletier has been a strong advocate for preserving the language, traditions, and treaty rights of Okanese First Nation.

Article

Aiyyana Maracle

Aiyyana Maracle, multidisciplinary Haudenosaunee artist, performer, storyteller and educator (born 25 November 1950 on Six Nations of the Grand River, ON; died there, 24 April 2016). An Indigenous transgender woman, Maracle created art that focused on the decolonization of gender. Her work received critical acclaim and was widely inspirational. She is believed to have been the first Indigenous woman to have received the John Hirsch Prize. This is a prestigious national award for emerging directors in Canadian theatre.

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Tahltan

Tahltan are Dene, an Indigenous people in Canada. Tahltan have traditionally occupied an area of northwestern British Columbia centered on the Stikine River. Although the Tahltan use several terms to refer to themselves, the designation "Tahltan" comes from the language of their neighbours, the Tlingit. Today, the Tahltan Central Government represents the interests of the Tahltan members, both on and off reserve.

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Beothuk

Beothuk (meaning “the people” or “true people” in their language) were an Indigenous people who traditionally inhabited Newfoundland. At the time of European contact in the 16th century, the Beothuk may have numbered no more than 500 to 1,000. Their population is difficult to estimate owing to a reduction in their territories in the early contact period. While it has been said that the Beothuk are now extinct, Mi’kmaq oral tradition denies this claim. Indigenous oral histories teach that the Beothuk intermarried with other Indigenous nations along the mainland after they had been forced out of their coastal territories by settlers. According to this perspective, Beothuk descendants live on in other Indigenous communities.

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Cree Language

The Cree language (also called Cree-Montagnais-Naskapi) is spoken in many parts of Canada, from the Rocky Mountains in the west to Labrador in the east. Cree is also spoken in northern Montana in the United States. Often written in syllabics (i.e., symbols representing a combination of consonant and vowel, or just a consonant or vowel), Cree is one of the most widely spoken Indigenous languages in Canada. In the 2016 census, 96,575 people reported speaking Cree.

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Tionontati (Petun)

Tionontati (also known as Petun) are an Iroquoian-speaking Indigenous people, closely related to the Huron-Wendat. The French called them Petun because they were known for cultivating tobacco or petún. The people call themselves Tionontati. After war with the Haudenosaunee in the mid-1600s, Tionontati and some other survivors, including the Attignawantan (a Huron-Wendat people) and the Wenrohronon (or Wenro), joined to become the Wendat, now known as the Wyandotte (or Wyandot) Nation. Today, the Wyandotte Nation is a federally recognized tribe of Oklahoma in the United States. There are also Wyandotte communities in Michigan (Wyandot of Anderdon Nation) and Kansas (Wyandot Nation of Kansas).

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Jackie Shane

Jackie Shane, singer (born 15 May 1940 in Nashville, Tennessee; died 22 February 2019 in Nashville). Jackie Shane was a pioneering transgender performer who was a prominent figure in Toronto’s R&B scene in the 1960s. Her cover of William Bell’s “Any Other Way” reached No. 2 on the CHUM singles chart in 1963. Her 1967 live album, Jackie Shane Live, was reissued in 2015 and was shortlisted for the Polaris Music Prize’s 1960–1970 Heritage Award. Any Other Way, an anthology album of songs from Shane’s career and monologues from her live shows, was released in 2017. It was nominated for a 2019 Grammy Award for Best Historical Album. Shane is featured in a public mural in downtown Toronto commemorating the Yonge Street music scene of the 1960s.

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Cree

Cree are the most populous and widely distributed Indigenous peoples in Canada. Other words the Cree use to describe themselves include nehiyawak, nihithaw, nehinaw and ininiw. Cree First Nations occupy territory in the Subarctic region from Alberta to Quebec, as well as portions of the Plains region in Alberta and Saskatchewan. According to 2016 census data, 356,655 people identified as having Cree ancestry and 96,575 people speak the Cree language.

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Innu (Montagnais-Naskapi)

Innu, which means “people” in the Innu language, is the predominant term used to describe all Innu. Some groups maintain the use of one of two older terms: Montagnais (French for “mountain people”), usually applied to groups in forested, more southern communities, and Naskapi, which refers to far northern groups who inhabit the barren lands of the subarctic. In the 2016 census, 27,755 people identified as having Innu/Montagnais ancestry, while an additional 1,085 identified as Naskapi.

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Plateau Indigenous Peoples in Canada

There are six cultural areas contained in what is now Canada, unrestricted by international boundaries. The Plateau cultural area consists of the high plateau between the British Columbia coastal mountains and the Rocky Mountains, and extends south to include parts of Washington State, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana. At lower elevations it is comprised of grasslands and subarctic forests. Plateau Indigenous peoples include, among others, the Secwepemc, Stl’atl’imc, Ktunaxa, and Tsilhqot’in. (See also Interior Salish.)

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Immigration to Canada

The movement of individuals of one country into another for the purpose of resettlement is central to Canadian history. The story of Canadian immigration is not one of orderly population growth; instead, it has been — and remains one — about economic development as well as Canadian attitudes and values. It has often been unashamedly economically self-serving and ethnically or racially discriminatory despite contributing to creating a multicultural society (see Immigration Policy in Canada; Refugees to Canada). Immigration has also contributed to dispossessing Indigenous peoples of their ancestral lands.

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Freda Ahenakew

​Freda Ahenakew, OC, Cree scholar, author (born 11 February 1932 on Ahtahkakoop First Nation, SK; died 8 April 2011 at Muskeg Lake First Nation, SK). Ahenakew is recognized as a leader in the acknowledgment and revitalization of the Cree language in Canada. In her life, Ahenakew helped to preserve the oral traditions of the Cree people and share Cree traditions and stories with Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples alike. (See also Indigenous Language Revitalization in Canada.)

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Malak Karsh

Armenian-Canadian photographer Malak Karsh was best known for his photographs of Canada, and of the Ottawa region in particular. His 1963 photograph of a tugboat bringing logs up the Ottawa River, with the Library of Parliament in the background, was featured on the reverse of the $1 banknote first issued in 1974. Karsh amassed perhaps the most comprehensive visual record of Canada in existence. He also founded the Ottawa Tulip Festival and was the younger brother of famed photographer Yousuf Karsh.

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Vivine Scarlett

Vivine Scarlett, dancer, choreographer, administrator (born in London, United Kingdom). Vivine Scarlett is the founder, executive director and curator of dance Immersion, a Toronto-based organization that produces, presents and supports dancing of the African diaspora. She is also an award-winning choreographer and a renowned instructor. Scarlett has received a K.M. Hunter Artist Award for dance from the Ontario Arts Foundation, the Muriel Sherrin Award from the Toronto Arts Foundation and a Lifetime Achievement Award from Dance Ontario.

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Naheed Nenshi

Naheed Kurban Nenshi, business consultant, professor, mayor of Calgary, AB, 2010–21 (born 2 February 1972 in Toronto, ON). Naheed Nenshi was elected Mayor of Calgary for three terms, from 2010 to 2021. He was the first Muslim mayor of a major North American city. He was also the first Canadian mayor to be awarded the World Mayor Prize by the British-based City Mayors Foundation. Nenshi was known for pioneering the use of social media in political campaigns, promoting civic engagement, completing various large infrastructure projects and guiding Calgary’s recovery following devastating floods in 2013.

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Freda Diesing

Freda Diesing, Haida artist (born 2 June 1925 in Prince Rupert, BC; died there 3 December 2002). Diesing was best known for her contributions to reviving traditional Haida art forms, including wood carving, mask carving and totem carving. She was one of the few women carvers who mastered the medium, and was partly responsible for bringing the style to an international audience. Diesing worked to ensure the style and tradition of Haida art was passed on to new generations. (See also Northwest Coast Indigenous Art and Contemporary Indigenous Art in Canada.)

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Subarctic Indigenous Peoples in Canada

The term “Subarctic Indigenous peoples” describes a number of different ethnic and linguistic groups, including the Dene, Cree, Ojibwe, Atikamekw, Innu and Beothuk. The Subarctic region consists largely of a five million square kilometre zone of boreal forest extending from the arctic tundra south to the mountains, plains and deciduous forest in the mid-section of the country. West to east, it extends from the Bering Sea to Labrador. The Subarctic is one of six cultural areas contained in what is now Canada. Unlike provinces and countries, these cultural areas do not have strict boundaries, and instead refer to areas in more general terms.

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Persons Case

The Persons Case (Edwards v. A.G. of Canada) was a constitutional ruling that established the right of women to be appointed to the Senate. The case was initiated by the Famous Five, a group of prominent women activists. In 1928, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that women were not “persons” according to the British North America Act (now called the Constitution Act, 1867). Therefore, they were ineligible for appointment to the Senate. However, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council reversed the Court’s decision on 18 October 1929. The Persons Case enabled women to work for change in both the House of Commons and the Senate. It also meant that women could no longer be denied rights based on a narrow interpretation of the law.

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Contemporary Indigenous Art in Canada

Contemporary Indigenous art is that which has been produced by Indigenous peoples between around 1945 to the present. Since that time, two major schools of Indigenous art have dominated the contemporary scene in Canada: Northwest Coast Indigenous Art and the Woodland school of Legend Painters. As well, a more widely scattered group of artists work independently in the context of mainstream Western art and may be described as internationalist in scope and intent. Contemporary Inuit art has evolved in parallel with contemporary Indigenous art, producing celebrated artists like Zacharias Kunuk and Annie Pootoogook. (See also Important Indigenous Artists in Canada and History of Indigenous Art in Canada.)