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Elliot Page

Elliot Page (born Ellen Philpotts-Page), actor, activist, producer (born 21 February 1987 in Halifax, NS). Elliot Page is a serious, soulful and intelligent actor, and one of Canada’s biggest movie stars. A seasoned child performer, Page started out in Canadian feature films and TV series, winning two Gemini Awards by the age of 18. Page’s intense performance in the American indie Hard Candy (2005) led to high-profile roles in X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) and the indie smash Juno (2007). Juno earned Page an Independent Spirit Award and an Oscar nomination. Adept at quirky comedy (Whip It, Super), intimate drama (Marion Bridge, Mouth to Mouth) and big-budget blockbusters (Inception, the X-Men franchise), Page is equally well-known for environmental activism, advocacy for LGBTQ rights and a grounded, socially-conscious persona.

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Sun Dance

The Sun Dance (also Sundance) is an annual Plains Indigenous cultural ceremony performed in honour of the sun, during which participants prove bravery by overcoming pain. Historically, the ceremony took place at midsummer when bands congregated at a predetermined location. The Sun Dance was forbidden under the Indian Act of 1895, but this ban was generally ignored and dropped from the Act in 1951. Some communities continue to celebrate the ceremony today.

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Oscar Peterson

Oscar Emmanuel Peterson, CC, CQ, OOnt, jazz pianist, composer, educator (born 15 August 1925 in Montréal, QC; died 23 December 2007 in Mississauga, ON). Oscar Peterson is one of Canada’s most honoured musicians. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest jazz pianists of all time. He was renowned for his remarkable speed and dexterity, meticulous and ornate technique, and dazzling, swinging style. He earned the nicknames “the brown bomber of boogie-woogie” and “master of swing.” A prolific recording artist, he typically released several albums a year from the 1950s until his death. He also appeared on more than 200 albums by other artists, including Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Billie Holiday and Louis Armstrong, who called him “the man with four hands.” His sensitivity in these supporting roles, as well as his acclaimed compositions such as Canadiana Suite and “Hymn to Freedom,” was overshadowed by his stunning virtuosity as a soloist. Also a noted jazz educator and advocate for racial equality, Peterson won a Juno Award and eight Grammy Awards, including one for lifetime achievement. The first recipient of the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Achievement, he was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and the International Jazz Hall of Fame. He was also made an Officer and then Companion of the Order of Canada, and an Officer in the Order of Arts and Letters in France, among many other honours.

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Shingoose

Shingoose (also Curtis Jonnie), Ojibwe singer-songwriter, guitarist, folk musician, Indigenous activist (born on 26 October 1946 in Winnipeg, MB; died on 12 January 2021 in Winnipeg, MB). Shingoose rose to popularity in Canada and the US in the late 1960s. A well-respected musician, Shingoose was also a strong advocate of Indigenous issues and strove to highlight Indigenous culture on the world stage. (See also Music of Indigenous Peoples in Canada.)

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Jean Cuthand Goodwill

Jean Cuthand Goodwill, OC, nurse, public servant and Indigenous health and education advocate (born 14 August 1928 on the Poundmaker Cree Nation, SK; died 25 August 1997 in Regina, SK). Cuthand Goodwill was one of the first Indigenous registered nurses in Canada. In 1974, she cofounded Indian and Inuit Nurses of Canada (now known as the Canadian Indigenous Nurses Association). She was a lifelong organizer, writer and educator who promoted First Nations health and culture.

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Camille Turner

Camille Turner, artist (born 11 March 1960 in Kingston, Jamaica). Camille Turner’s new media and performance works question Canadian identity and notions of belonging, and interrogate the erasure of Black history from Canadian narratives. Turner is active throughout Canada and internationally, where she regularly performs as her beauty queen persona, Miss Canadiana.

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Margaret Trudeau

Margaret Joan (née Sinclair) Trudeau (Kemper), author, actor, photographer, mental health advocate (born 10 September 1948 in North Vancouver, BC). Margaret Trudeau’s marriage to Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau in 1971 made her a public figure overnight. The dissolution of their union occurred under withering public scrutiny at a time when traditional roles, for homemakers and political wives alike, were being challenged. As the wife of one prime minister and the mother of another — Justin Trudeau — Margaret Trudeau carved out a public role for herself after revealing her diagnosis with bipolar disorder. In two books and in well-received public speeches, she has been an outspoken advocate for people with mental health issues.

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Iain Baxter&

Iain Baxter& was arguably the first, and most broadly influential, conceptual artist in Canada. He has worked in a wide variety of media, including painting, sculpture, installation, and photography. He also had a distinguished teaching career and was central to inspiring Vancouver School artists like Jeff Wall, Rodney Graham, and Stan Douglas.

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Jason Wu

Made famous by designing Michelle Obama's gowns for the first and second inauguration of Barack Obama as president of the United States, Jason Wu has been called a designer from a different era, reinventing classical feminine silhouettes while incorporating traditional techniques.

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Rebecca Belmore

​Increasingly recognized as one of the most important artists of her generation, Rebecca Belmore's performances, videos, sculptures, and photographs starkly confront the ongoing history of oppression of Indigenous peoples in Canada.

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Stan Douglas

An artist of colour closely associated with the Vancouver School, Stan Douglas examines the complexities of social reality and history and the means by which they are represented. While his initial reputation was as a video and installation artist, more recently he has been acclaimed for his large format back-lit photographs of elaborately re-staged historical scenes.

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Ydessa Hendeles

Ydessa Hendeles, CMOOnt, art collector, curator, artist, philanthropist (born 27 December 1948 in Marburg, Germany). A winner of the Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts, Ydessa Hendeles is best known as one of the world’s leading collectors of contemporary art and photography. The founder of the Ydessa Hendeles Art Foundation in Toronto, she has curated more than 35 contemporary art exhibitions in Toronto and around the world.

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Wade Hemsworth

Albert Wade Hemsworth, draftsman, graphic artist, singer, songwriter (born 23 October 1916 in Brantford, ON; died 19 January 2002 in Montréal, QC). The composer of evocative songs celebrating Canadiana and the northern forests, draftsman Wade Hemsworth turned his folk music hobby into a lasting national legacy. Iconic compositions such as “The Black Fly Song” and “The Log Driver’s Waltz” made Hemsworth an elder statesman of Canadian folk music throughout the second half of the 20th century. Several of his songs gained wide popularity through their use in National Film Board productions. “The Black Fly Song” was featured in Christopher Hinton’s Oscar-nominated animated short Blackfly (1991) and inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2003.

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Jill Hennessy

Jillian Noel Hennessy, actor, singer, musician (born 25 November 1968 in Edmonton, AB). Equal parts brassy and brainy, Jill Hennessy is a sultry, whip-smart actor who is best known for her roles in the American television series Law & Order and Crossing Jordan. She has also appeared in films and released two albums as a singer-songwriter. She was inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame in 2007.

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Marcel Dzama

Marcel Dzama, visual artist (born 1974 in Winnipeg, MB). Marcel Dzama is a contemporary artist best known for his pen-and-ink drawings, which feature human figures preoccupied by a sinister, otherworldly cast of flora and fauna.

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Hugh Fraser

Hugh Alexander Fraser, pianist, trombonist, composer, teacher (born 26 October 1958 in Victoria, BC; died 17 June 2020). Two-time Juno Award-winner Hugh Fraser enjoyed great success with his 13-piece big band Vancouver Ensemble of Jazz Improvisation (VEJI, or “Veggie”) and with the Hugh Fraser Quintet. He composed over 200 jazz works, including many commissions, and taught at the Banff Centre for the Arts, the Royal Academy of Music in London, and the University of Victoria. He set up the diploma jazz program at the Victoria Conservatory of Music in 2001. Jazz Report named Fraser Canadian trombonist of the year in 1996 and 1998.

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John McIntyre

John McIntyre, pianist, teacher (born 23 June 1938 in Sarnia, ON). John McIntyre is an award-winning pianist and professor of piano. He has performed with such distinguished conductors as Walter Susskind and Sir Ernest MacMillan. McIntyre has taught at the University of Missouri Kansas City Conservatory since 1975.

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Norm Amadio

Albert Norman Benedict Amadio, pianist (born 14 April 1928 in Timmins, ON; died 22 January 2020). Norm Amadio was a prominent figure in Toronto’s jazz scene for more than 60 years. Journalist Peter Goddard called him “unquestionably the finest accompanist in Canadian jazz history.” He was also a member of many studio orchestras and a music director for the CBC for many years. He received a lifetime achievement award from the Toronto Musicians’ Association in 2016.

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Jean Beaudin

Jean Beaudin, COQ, director, writer, editor (born 6 February 1939 in Montreal, QC; died 18 May 2019 in Montreal). Film director Jean Beaudin is perhaps best known for J.A. Martin, photographe (1977). Considered one of best Canadian films of all time, it won major awards at the Cannes Film Festival and at the Canadian Film Awards. Beaudin also won acclaim for his adaptions of Quebec literature, including the hugely popular TV series Les Filles de Caleb (1990–91). He was made a Chevalier in the Ordre national du Québec and received a Governor General’s Lifetime Artistic Achievement Award.