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Indigenous-French Relations

French fishermen, settlers, fur traders, missionaries and colonial agents were among the earliest Europeans to have sustained contact with ​Indigenous peoples in what is now Canada and North America. The relationship between French and Indigenous people of the Eastern Woodlands in the early colonial period was complex and interdependent. France saw Indigenous nations as allies, and relied on them for survival and fur trade wealth. Indigenous people traded for European goods, established military alliances and hostilities, intermarried, sometimes converted to Christianity, and participated politically in the governance of New France. With the transfer of New France to Britain in 1763, diplomatic relations between the French and Indigenous people in Canada ceased. Naturally, social and economic interaction between the European and Indigenous inhabitants of New France continued.

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Raymond Gravel

​Raymond Gravel, priest, chaplain, theologian and parliamentarian (born 4 November 1952 in Saint-Damien-de-Brandon, QC; died 11 August 2014 in Joliette, QC).

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Jacques Hébert

Jacques Hébert, journalist, travel writer, publisher, Senator (born 21 June 1923 in Montreal, QC; died 6 December 2007 in Montreal). Jacques Hébert was a crusading Quebec journalist and a trailblazing book publisher before and during the Quiet Revolution. He founded Canada World Youth, an exchange program dedicated to world peace, and co-founded Katimavik, a youth program offering volunteer positions across the country. As a member of the Senate, Hébert held a 21-day fast to protest the government’s cancellation of funding for Katimavik. His travels took him to over 130 countries; notably, he visited the People’s Republic of China in 1960 with longtime friend Pierre Trudeau. Hébert was also a noted critic of Quebec premier Maurice Duplessis and a federalist who scorned Quebec nationalism. He was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1978.

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Marie Rollet

Marie Rollet, first Frenchwoman to settle in New France (born circa 1580 in Paris, France; died in May 1649 and buried 27 May 1649 in Quebec City, New France). She is recognized as the first female French farmer in New France, alongside her husband Louis Hébert.

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Francophones of Ontario (Franco-Ontarians)

Ontario has the largest French-speaking minority community in Canada, and the largest French-speaking community of any province outside of Quebec. Ontario’s French-speaking presence was first established during the French colonial regime in the early 17th century (see New France.) It grew steadily throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, mainly in the eastern and northeastern parts of the province in connection with the forestry, mining and railway industries. French has official language status in Ontario’s Legislative Assembly, in the courts, and in educational institutions (see French Languages Services Act (Ontario)).

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Religion and Spirituality of Indigenous Peoples in Canada

First Nation, Métis and Inuit religions in Canada vary widely and consist of complex social and cultural customs for addressing the sacred and the supernatural. The influence of Christianity — through settlers, missionaries and government policy — significantly altered life for Indigenous peoples. In some communities, this resulted in hybridized religious practices; while in others, European religion replaced traditional spiritual practices entirely. Though historically suppressed by colonial administrators and missionaries, especially from the late 19th- to mid-20th centuries, many contemporary Indigenous communities have revived, or continue to practice, traditional spirituality.

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Manitoba Schools Question

The struggle over the rights of francophones in Manitoba to receive an education in their mother tongue and their religion is regarded as one of the most important “school crises” in Canadian history, with major short-term and long-term consequences.

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Tantoo Cardinal

Rose Marie “Tantoo” Cardinal, CM, actor (born 20 Jul 1950 in Fort McMurray, AB). Tantoo Cardinal has performed more than 100 film, television and theatre roles in Canada and the United States. She broke barriers for onscreen representation of Indigenous peoples and has challenged negative stereotypes of Indigenous communities throughout her career, which has included roles in such films as Dances With Wolves (1990), Black Robe (1991), Smoke Signals (1998), Wind River (2017) and Through Black Spruce (2019), and such TV series as Street Legal (1987–94), Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman (1993–95), North of 60 (1993–97), Moccasin Flats (2003-06) and Mohawk Girls (2010–17). She is known for her strong presence, the depth of her performances and her activism on behalf of the environment. A Member of the Order of Canada, she has won a Gemini Award, a Canadian Screen Award for lifetime achievement, a National Aboriginal Achievement Award and many other honours.

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Belgian Canadians

Belgians have contributed significantly to the economic, social and cultural development of Canada despite their relatively small numbers and their dispersion across the country. Originally, the majority of immigrants were Flemings whose settlement concentred in the agricultural regions of Québec, southwestern Ontario and Manitoba. Since 1945, Belgian immigrants have tended to be young, well-educated French-speaking professionals and entrepreneurs who prefer the urban centres, particularly in British Columbia and Alberta.

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French Immigration in Canada

After New France was ceded to Great Britain in 1763, the migration of French colonists slowed considerably. A trickle of clergy members, farmers and professionals settled during the 19th century. However, after the Second World War, French immigration — which was then politically favoured — resumed with renewed vigour. This effort was geared towards recruiting francophone professionals and entrepreneurs, who settled in Canada’s big cities. The French spawned many cultural associations and had a large presence in French-Canadian schools.