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Alexandre Bilodeau

Alexandre Bilodeau, freestyle skier (born 8 September 1987 in Montreal, QC). Alexandre Bilodeau’s gold medal in moguls at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver made him the first Canadian athlete to win an Olympic gold medal on home soil. At the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, he became the first male Canadian athlete to successfully defend his Olympic gold medal; as well as the first freestyle skier to win consecutive Olympic gold medals. He finished his career with three world championships in dual moguls and 19 World Cup medals. He then became an accountant and a national spokesperson for people with disabilities. He has been inducted into the Québec Sports Hall of Fame, the Canadian Ski Hall of Fame and Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame.

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Michael Edgson

​Michael Edgson, swimmer (born 6 May 1969 in North Vancouver, BC). Edgson won 20 medals at the Paralympic Games from 1984 to 1992, and 10 gold medals at the World Swimming Championships for the Physically Disabled.

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Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir

Tessa Virtue, figure skater (born 17 May 1989 in London, ON) and Scott Moir, figure skater (born 2 September 1987 in London, ON). Virtue and Moir are the most successful Canadian ice dance team of the early 21st century, and were the first North Americans to win the Olympic Gold Medal for ice dance, at the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games. At the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, they won silver in ice dance and in the team competition. They won gold in ice dance and in the team competition at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, becoming the most decorated figure skaters in Olympic history. They have also won four world championships (three senior and one junior), three Four Continents championships, nine Canadian championships (eight senior and one junior) and multiple Grand Prix events, including a Grand Prix Final.

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Charmaine Hooper

Charmaine Elizabeth Hooper, soccer player (born 15 January 1968 in Georgetown, Guyana). Charmaine Hooper debuted with the Canadian women’s soccer team in 1986 and was a two-time NCAA first-team All-American. She represented Canada at three FIFA Women’s World Cups (1995, 1999, 2003) and won two silver medals for Canada at the CONCACAF Women’s Championships (1991, 1994). She also helped lead Canada to its first-ever CONCACAF gold in 1998. She was named Canadian Player of the Year in 1994, 1995, 2002 and 2003 and was the first player to have 100 caps for the women’s national team. She also played professionally in the US, Europe and Japan. She was named a member of the All-Time Canada XI women’s team and has been inducted into both the Soccer Hall of Fame and Museum and Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame.

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Balarama Holness

Balarama Holness, professional football player, lawyer, political activist, social entrepreneur (born 20 July 1983 in Montreal, QC). Balarama Holness put a wayward youth behind him to become a Grey Cup-winning professional football player with his hometown Montreal Alouettes. He then pursued a career as a lawyer and political organizer and ran for mayor of the borough of Montréal-Nord in 2017. His community organizing efforts led to two separate reports (in 2019 and 2020) that acknowledged the existence and extent of systemic racism in the province, while also recommending solutions. In 2021, Holness ran to become mayor of Montreal but was defeated.

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Manny McIntyre

Vincent “Manny” Churchill McIntyre, baseball player, hockey player, railway porter (born 4 October 1918 in Gagetown, New Brunswick). Manny McIntyre was the first Black Canadian to sign a professional baseball contract — just six weeks after American Jackie Robinson broke the pro baseball colour barrier. McIntyre played as a shortstop for the St. Lous Cardinals farm team, the Sherbrooke Canadians. A multisport athlete, he was also a member (with brothers Ossie and Herb Carnegie) of the first all-Black line in pro hockey, known as the “Black Aces.” McIntyre was inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, the Black Ice Hockey and Sports Hall of Fame, the New Brunswick Sports Hall of Fame and the City of Fredericton Sports Wall of Fame.

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Canada at the 2020 Olympic Summer Games

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Olympic Summer Games were the first Olympic Games to be postponed. They were held in Tokyo, Japan, from 23 July to 8 August 2021. Canada sent 371 athletes (225 women, 146 men) and finished 11th in the overall medal standings with 24 (seven gold, six silver, 11 bronze). It is the most Canada has ever won at a non-boycotted Olympic Summer Games. Of the 24 medals, 18 were won by Canadian women. The seven gold medals tied Canada’s record at a non-boycotted Olympic Summer Games. Highlights for Canada at the Tokyo Games included Penny Oleksiak becoming Canada’s most decorated Olympian; Andre De Grasse winning three medals, including gold in the men’s 200 m dash; the Canadian women’s soccer team winning gold for the first time in dramatic fashion; and gold medallist Damian Warner becoming only the fourth athlete in Olympic history to score more than 9,000 points in the decathlon.

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Marnie McBean

Marnie Elizabeth McBean, OC, rower, mentor, motivational speaker, Olympic Chef de Mission (born 28 January 1968 in Vancouver, BC). Winners of four Olympic medals, Marnie McBean and her rowing partner Kathleen Heddle are the only Canadian athletes to win three gold medals at the Olympic Summer Games. McBean also won eight medals at the World Championships. She is a member of the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame and Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame and has received the Thomas Keller Medal, the most prestigious award in rowing. She is an Officer of the Order of Canada and served as Canada’s Chef de Mission at the 2020 Olympic Summer Games in Tokyo.

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Herb Carnegie

Herbert H. Carnegie, CMO Ont, hockey player, philanthropist (born 8 November 1919 in Toronto, ON; died 9 March 2012 in Toronto). Arguably the first Black Canadian hockey star, Herb Carnegie is widely regarded as the best Black player never to play in the National Hockey League (NHL). Carnegie played in the 1940s and 1950s, mostly in the Quebec and Ontario Junior A and senior leagues. He was a member of the Black Aces, the first all-Black line in hockey outside the Colored Hockey League of the Maritimes. Following his retirement from hockey in 1954, he established the Herbert H. Carnegie Future Aces Foundation. He was also an accomplished senior golfer. A Member of the Order of Canada, Carnegie was inducted into the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame and Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame.

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Andre De Grasse

Andre De Grasse, sprinter, philanthropist (born 10 November 1994 in Scarborough, ON). Andre De Grasse is the first Canadian to break both the 10-second barrier in the 100 m dash and the 20-second barrier in the 200 m dash. He burst onto the international stage at age 20, winning double gold at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto, followed by a bronze medal in the 100 m at the 2015 World Track and Field Championships. At the 2016 Olympic Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, De Grasse won silver in the 200 m, bronze in the 100 m and bronze in the 4x100 m relay. At the 2020 Games in Tokyo, he won gold in the 200 m and bronze in both the 100 m and the 4x100 m relay. He is the first Canadian sprinter to win three medals at a single Olympic Games. He also holds the Canadian record in the 200 m (19.62 seconds).

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Willie O'Ree

Willie O’Ree, CM, ONB, hockey player (born 15 October 1935 in Fredericton, NB). Willie O’Ree became the first Black hockey player to play a National Hockey League (NHL) game on 18 January 1958. He played professional hockey for more than 20 years, including 45 games with the NHL’s Boston Bruins. Since 1998, O’Ree has been the NHL’s Director of Youth Development and ambassador for NHL Diversity, and has led the Hockey is for Everyone program. He received the Lester Patrick Trophy in 2003 for his outstanding service to hockey in the United States. In 2018, the NHL established the Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award in his honour. O’Ree is a Member of both the Order of Canada and the Order of New Brunswick. He has been inducted into the New Brunswick Sports Hall of Fame and the Hockey Hall of Fame. He was named to Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame as a Builder on 27 May 2020 and will be formally inducted in 2021. The Boston Bruins will retire his No. 22 jersey in 2022.

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Mike Weir

Michael Richard Weir, CM, OOnt, golfer (born 12 May 1970 in Sarnia, ON). Mike Weir is widely considered the one of the greatest Canadian golfers, and one of the best Canadian athletes, of all time. He became the first Canadian man to win one of professional golf’s four major tournaments when he won the 67th Masters Tournament in 2003. In total, he won eight events on the Professional Golf Association (PGA) Tour, tying him with George Knudson and Sandra Post for the most wins by a Canadian professional golfer (surpased by Brooke Henderson in 2019). Weir won the Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada’s top athlete in 2003 and is a three-time winner of the Lionel Conacher Award as the country’s best male athlete. He has been inducted into the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame and Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame. He has also run a winery and several charitable foundations.

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Cowboys and Cowgirls in Canada

Cowboys and cowgirls are people employed to tend cattle or horses. The first cowboys to work on the Canadian prairies arrived in the 1870s. The traditional cowboy lifestyle has since given way to a more contained, corporate model of ranching. But the romanticized image of the cowboy on the “open range” lives on as a symbol of the prairies. Today, the terms cowboy and cowgirl can refer to ranch workers or rodeo competitors.

Click here for definitions of key terms used in this article.

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Tom Longboat

Thomas Charles Longboat, distance runner (born 4 July 1886 in Ohsweken, Six Nations Grand River reserve; died 9 January 1949). Tom Longboat (Haudenosaunee name Cogwagee) was an Onondaga distance runner from the Six Nations of the Grand River First Nation reserve near Brantford, Ontario. Largely because of his ability to dominate any race and his spectacular finishing sprints, he was one of the most celebrated athletes before the First World War.

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Christine Sinclair

Christine Sinclair, OC, soccer player (born 12 June 1983 in Burnaby, BC). Soccer player Christine Sinclair has been named Canadian Player of the Year 14 times. She has scored more international goals (187) and more Olympic goals (12) than any other player in the world. After twice being named the top women’s college soccer player in the United Sates and winning two NCAA championships, Sinclair led the Canadian women’s team to three World Cups (2011, 2015, 2019) and four Olympic Summer Games (Beijing 2008, London 2012, Rio 2016, Tokyo 2020). The team won back-to-back Olympic bronze medals in 2012 and 2016 before winning gold in Tokyo. Sinclair received the Bobbie Rosenfeld Award as Canada’s female athlete of the year in 2012 and 2020 and was named Canada Soccer Player of the Decade in 2019. The first soccer player to win the Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada’s athlete of the year, she has been inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame and is an Officer of the Order of Canada.