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Official Languages Act (1988) (Plain-Language Summary)

The Official Languages Act of 1969 made English and French the two official languages in Canada. The Official Languages Act of 1988 offered more detail about how the policies of bilingualism should be put into practice. It highlighted the responsibilities of federal institutions with respect to official languages in Canada. An important goal of the Official Languages Act is to ensure the equality of English and French in federal institutions and in Canadian society.

(This article is a plain-language summary of the Official Languages Act of 1988. If you are interested in reading about this topic in more depth, please see our full-length entry on The Official Languages Act (1988).)

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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.

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Murder of Reena Virk

Reena Virk, a 14-year-old of South Asian origin, was savagely beaten and murdered by teenaged attackers in November 1997 in a suburb of Victoria, British Columbia. The crime horrified Canadians and attracted international media attention because of the brutality of the killing as well as the youth of Virk and those who attacked her. It prompted a national conversation about teenaged bullying and racism, led in part by Virk’s parents, who became anti-bullying campaigners in the wake of their daughter’s murder.

This article contains sensitive material that may not be suitable for all audiences.

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Francophones of Alberta (Franco-Albertains)

In the Prairies, the names of rivers and trading posts bear the mark of explorers and voyagers who travelled the region during the 18th and 19th centuries. Agriculture and the petroleum industry attracted many migrants from Quebec, Acadia, Ontario and neighbouring provinces, but also from New-England, France and Belgium. In 2016, 418,000 Albertans (10.5 per cent of the population) were of French or French-Canadian origins (see: FrancophoneAlberta; History of Settlement in the Canadian Prairies).

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Indigenous Services Canada

Indigenous Services Canada (part of the former Indigenous/Indian and Northern Affairs Canada or INAC) was created by the federal government in 2017 to provide and support the delivery of services such as health care, child care, education and infrastructure to First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities. The overarching vision of the department is to support self-determination as a means of providing Indigenous peoples with the power to deliver their own services.

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Walking Buffalo (Tatanga Mani)

Walking Buffalo (born Tatanga Mani, also known as George McLean), Stoney-Nakoda leader, statesman, philosopher (born 20 March 1870 in the Bow River Valley near Morley, AB; died 27 December 1967 in Banff, AB). Walking Buffalo was present at the signing of Treaty 7 (1877) and later served as a respected leader in Bearspaw First Nation until his death. Walking Buffalo preached world peace and, in 1959, journeyed around the globe to spread this word. He was a strong advocate for protecting the environment and Indigenous rights and culture.

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Rural Teachers in Canada

​Up until the second half of the 19th century, most rural teachers in Canada were young, female, poorly paid, and held the most limited professional qualifications. These teachers delivered a rudimentary education to thousands of Canada’s rural children, often amidst difficult conditions. Indeed, until the 1960s, rural teachers frequently taught students of various ages and wide-ranging academic abilities together in one-room schoolhouses while also shouldering the burden of maintaining the schools themselves.

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Chinese Immigration Act

The Chinese Immigration Act of 1923, known also as the Chinese Exclusion Act, banned the entry of virtually all Chinese immigrants for 24 years. Although migration into Canada from most countries was controlled or restricted in some way, only Chinese people were singled out completely from entering on the basis of race. The four exceptions to the exclusion were students, merchants (excluding laundry, restaurant and retail operators), diplomats and Canadian-born Chinese returning from education in China. The limit on absence from Canada was two years, and the consequence for not returning on time was being barred re-entry. Additionally, every person of Chinese descent, whether Canadian-born or naturalized, was required to register for an identity card within 12 months. The penalty for noncompliance was imprisonment or a fine of up to $500. Though the Act was repealed in 1947, immigration restrictions on the basis of race and national origin were not fully scrubbed until 1967.

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Canadian Parents for French

Canadian Parents for French is a national organization of parents dedicated to the expansion of French second-language learning opportunities for young Canadians. Primarily driven by the volunteer efforts of parents, it has been the leading organization in Canada dedicated to the expansion of French immersion programs and the improvement of French second-language learning programs since the 1970s.

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Chiac

Chiac (also spelled chiak or chiaque) is a specific type of discursive switching between French and English among individuals who are highly bilingual and have Acadian French as their mother tongue but Canadian English as their first or second language.

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Black Voting Rights in Canada

The history of Black Canadian voting rights is marked by contrasting shifts. Enslaved during the period 1600–1834, Black persons could not vote. Emancipated, they were entitled to the rights, freedoms and privileges enjoyed by British subjects, including the franchise; however, racial discrimination did at times impede Black Canadians’ right to vote. The rights and freedoms of Black women were further restricted by virtue of their sex.

Black communities in Canada represent an array of experiences, below are some that relate to the right to vote.

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Margret Benedictsson

Margret Benedictsson (née Jonsdottir), journalist, social activist, suffragist (born 16 March 1866 in Hrappsstadir, Iceland; died 13 December 1956 in Anacortes, Washington). Benedictsson brought her deeply held beliefs and interest in social change to Manitoba. Through her service to the Icelandic communities in Selkirk, Gimli, and Winnipeg, she championed women’s suffrage, education, improved working conditions, and human rights.

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Hiawatha

Hiawatha is an important figure in the precolonial history of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) of present-day southern Ontario and upper New York (ca. 1400-1450). He is known most famously for uniting the Five Nations—Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida and Mohawk—into a political confederacy. In 1722, the Tuscarora, a tribe from much farther south, joined the Confederacy, forming what we now know as the Six Nations. The story of Hiawatha should not be confused with the popular poem by Henry Wordsworth Longfellow, The Song of Hiawatha (1885). While Longfellow references Hiawatha, the poem’s focus is actually an Algonquian cultural hero, Nanabozho. Whether this was an intentional or accidental error, Longfellow’s poem confused the history of Hiawatha.

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Anton Wilfer

Anton Wilfer. Violin maker, b Luby, Czechoslovakia, 30 Apr 1901, d Montreal 31 Aug 1976. He studied and practised violin making in his home town before travelling in 1946 to Mittenwald, Bavaria, to perfect his work with master craftsmen.

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John Strachan

Strachan lost his father when he was 14. He entered the University of Aberdeen at only 16 and supported his widowed mother through teaching.