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Iranian Canadians

Iran, formerly known as Persia, is one of the oldest civilizations of the world. Iranians are a relatively new community in Canada and one that continues to grow. Their immigration to the country began in the 1980s, in the wake of the 1979 Iranian Revolution. In 2016, there were 170,755 people of Iranian origin in Canada, and another 39,650 had multiple origins, one of them being Iranian (for a total of 210,405 Canadians). From 2011 to 2016, Canada welcomed 42,070 Iranian immigrants. Iran is one of the top ten birthplaces of recent immigrants to Canada, ranked fourth after the Philippines, India and China.

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Polish Canadians

Polish immigrants began to arrive in Canada shortly after the First Partition of Poland in the late 1700s. According to the 2016 census, around one million Canadians claim full or partial Polish ancestry, and 191,775 Canadians speak Polish as a mother tongue language.

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African Canadians

Prior to 1960, black Africans comprised a very small, scattered and almost unknown group of newcomers to Canada, although Africans of European and Asian ancestry had a clearer presence. According to the 2016 census, 1,067,925 Canadians reported being of African origin (682,570 single and 385,355 multiple responses). Of that number, 230, 110 people reported Central and West African origins; 355, 040 reported North African origins; 260, 145 reported Southern and East African origins and; 239, 560 reported other African origins.

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Czech Canadians

Canada is home to the third largest Czech diaspora after the United States and Germany. Today, Czech Canadians form an ethnocultural community with a rich history dating back to the 1880s.

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Inuvialuit

Inuvialuit originally occupied the western Canadian arctic coast from Barter Island in the west to Cape Bathurst in the east, as well as the northern portion of the Mackenzie River Delta. Numbering about 2000 during the 19th century, they formed the densest Inuit population in arctic Canada.

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The Underground Railroad (Plain-Language Summary)

The Underground Railroad was a secret organization. It was made up of people who helped African Americans escape from slavery in the southern United States. The people in this organization set up a system of routes that escaped slaves could travel to find freedom in the northern United States and Canada. In the 1800s (the 19th century) between 30,000 and 40,000 escaped slaves traveled to British North America (Canada) through the Underground Railroad.

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

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Jean Vanier

Jean Vanier, CC, GOQ, philosopher, humanist, founder of L’Arche and co-founder of Faith and Light (born 10 September 1928 in Geneva, Switzerland; died 7 May 2019 in Paris, France). The son of Georges Vanier, governor general of Canada (1959–1967), and Pauline Vanier (née Archer), Vanier worked as a navy officer and professor before devoting his life to advocating for persons with intellectual disabilities. In February of 2020, an investigative report found that Vanier had sexually abused at least six women between 1970 and 1995, thereby raising questions about his legacy of service and reputation as a spiritual leader.

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Claudette Bradshaw

Claudette Bradshaw, community activist, politician (born 8 April 1949 in Moncton, NB). Claudette Bradshaw’s early career was spent in nonprofit social work. She founded Moncton Headstart, an early family intervention centre, and advocated for at-risk youth. She was Member of Parliament for Moncton–Riverview–Dieppe from 1997 to 2006 and served in several ministerial roles in the Liberal governments of Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin, including Minister of Labour and Minister of State (Human Resources Development). Since then, she has become a major advocate for mental health, literacy and affordable housing.

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John Baptist James “John the B” Marchand (Primary Source)

John “the B” Marchand from Okanagan Reserve #1 was a Bren gunner during the Second World War. He served in the infantry from 1943 to 1945. Learn more about Marchand’s time in the trenches during the Italian Campaign.

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.

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Acadian Heritage

This collection explores the rich heritage of the Acadians through articles and exhibits, as well as quizzes on arts and culture, history and politics, historical figures, and places associated with the Acadian people.

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Joseph Rouleau

Joseph Alfred Pierre Rouleau, CC, GOQ, bass, teacher (born 28 February 1929 in Matane, QC; died 12 July 2019 in Montreal, QC). Opera singer Joseph Rouleau was renowned worldwide for his unerring theatrical sense and impressive vocal flexibility. He performed for 20 years with Covent Garden in London, where he played leading roles in more than 40 productions. In Canada, Rouleau appeared often with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the Quebec Symphony Orchestra. He premiered the role of Monseigneur Taché in Harry Somers’s Louis Riel with the Canadian Opera Company (COC) in 1967. He also commissioned and premiered Jacques Hétu’s Les Abîmes du rêve with the Quebec Symphony Orchestra in 1984, and issued a recording of songs by Félix Leclerc in 1990. Rouleau received the Prix de musique Calixa-Lavallée, the Prix Denise-Pelletier and the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement. He was made an Officer and then Companion of the Order of Canada, and an Officer and then Grand Officer of the Ordre national du Québec. He was inducted into the Canadian Opera Hall of Fame in 1992.

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Norwegian Canadians

Norway is a Scandinavian country in northwestern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden, Finland and Russia. Permanent Norwegian migration to North America began in 1825 when the first shipload of Norwegians arrived in New York. In 2016, the Canadian census reported 463,275 people of Norwegian origin (35,905 single and 427,370 multiple responses).

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Christie Blatchford

Christie Blatchford, journalist, newspaper columnist, writer, broadcaster (born 20 May 1951 in Rouyn-Noranda, QC; died 12 February 2020 in Toronto, ON). Christie Blatchford was one of Canada’s best-known journalists. In a career spanning five decades, she wrote for all of Canada’s national daily newspapers — the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star and the National Post — as well as the Toronto Sun. She also published several books, including Fifteen Days: Stories of Bravery, Friendship, Life and Death from Inside the New Canadian Army (2008), which won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction. Blatchford won a National Newspaper Award for her columns in 1999 and was inducted into the Canadian News Hall of Fame in November 2019. She was a conservative writer who focused mainly on crime, human suffering and criminal justice. Her often controversial views prompted strong reactions and media responses.

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Joy Kogawa

Joy Nozomi Kogawa (née Nakayama), CM, OBC, poet, novelist, activist (born 6 June 1935 in Vancouver, BC). Joy Kogawa is one of the most influential Canadian authors of Japanese descent. She is celebrated both for her moving, fictionalized accounts of the internment of Japanese Canadians and her work in the Redress Movement to obtain compensation and reparation for her community. She is a Member of the Order of Canada and the Order of British Columbia, as well as Japan’s Order of the Rising Sun.

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Roland "Rolly" Gravel (Primary Source)

Roland “Rolly” Gravel served as a gunner with The Fusiliers Mont-Royal regiment during the Second World War. He was among the 6,000 troops who landed at the coastal port of Dieppe, France, on 19 August 1942. The attack was a disaster, and Gravel was taken prisoner. Learn all about the hardships Gravel faced as prisoner of war.

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.

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Emilien Dufresne (Primary Source)

Emilien Dufresne was a solider with the Royal 22e Régiment during the Second World War. He was one of 14,000 Canadian soldiers who stormed Juno Beach on 6 June 1944. Learn Dufresne’s story of being taken prisoner by the Germans, forcefully put to work in a sugar factory, and how he was liberated.

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.

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Catholicism in Canada

The Greek word katholikos means "general" or "universal." It refers most commonly to the Christianity that is in communion with the pope and the Church of Rome, that is, the beliefs and practices of a Catholic Church. The modern ecumenical movement often refers to all Christians as sharing in the church's Catholicism, which is derived from the universal headship and reign of Christ. In the 2011 National Household Survey (NHS), 12,810,705 Canadians identified as Catholic.

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Beothuk

Beothuk (meaning “the people” or “true people” in their language) were the now-extinct inhabitants of Newfoundland. At the time of European contact, they 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 and the absence of surviving documentation.